gender balance
Many couples want to conceive a boy. Many other couples want to conceive a girl. They all have their reasons for wanting gender selection as an option for their family — some that most would understand and some that most people would condemn. But whatever the reason behind it, there is a way to conceive the gender you want using technology. It’s called gender selection, and here’s what you should know about it.

During in vitro fertilization, your fertility specialist can assess the developing embryos to detect the presence of certain genetic diseases. This test is called the pre-implantation diagnosis, or PGD. PGD tests, however, can also determine the gender of the embryo. Because you can choose which embryos to implant, the couple can opt to implant only embryos of a certain gender. If they implant, then voila! You have the gender you wanted — at least 99 percent of the time.

A single cell is removed from an embryo on the third day, also called a Day 3 embryo, to perform the test. Alternatively, you can remove six or eight cells from a Day 5 or 6 blastocyst. The cell is then analyzed to look for any of the genetic indicators for a specific condition by looking at the chromosomes. This test is often used to identify conditions such as cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, Huntington’s disease or sickle cell disease. During this examination, the chromosomes will also reveal the gender of the baby.

Some couples, however, have no history of the genetic diseases listed, but they still want to know the sex of the embryo. In this case, the screening is then called the pre-implantation genetic screening (PGS), although, to be fair, the terms are often used interchangeably. The primary purpose of the screening is still to enhance the probability of a successful pregnancy by transferring embryos with the correct number of chromosomes. It does, however, provide the opportunity to choose the gender of the embryos you transfer.

Many times, gender selection is a great option for families with a history of a genetic disease that is linked to a particular gender. These are called sex-linked disorders, which are caused when a single gene defect on the X chromosome occurs, which for various reasons means that it is more likely to affect the male embryos. When these sex-linked diseases are detected, it allows the parents to select not to implant these embryos to facilitate a better chance for a successful implantation and pregnancy. Some examples of these are:

  • Hemophilia, when the patient’s blood will not clot properly
  • Fragile X syndrome, a condition that can cause mental retardation for the patient
  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a disease that causes muscle tissue deterioration progressively over time

However, one does not need to be screening for these types of sex-linked diseases to employ gender selection. Sometimes the family is interested in family balancing, i.e., having a boy or a girl to add into the mix of their all-girl or all-boy families, or they always wanted a certain gender of a child. This is called elective gender selection and it is growing in popularity all around the world.

Whatever the reason that you want to conceive a boy or conceive a girl, be sure to explore the options available to you for gender selection. You will likely hear of less high-tech ways to conceive a specific gender. However, the most effective ways are the ones that use PGD or PGS as the basis for gender analysis of embryos for IVF. And when it comes to having the family you always dreamed of, isn’t it worth it to have the best chance of success?


“What is a sex-linked genetic disease?” 3 May 2013. Web. 16 November 2015. <>.