Pregnant woman holding baby shoesMore couples are looking for balancing their families through the use of gender selection with in vitro fertilization (IVF) in the United States every year. Because gender selection is legal here, many patients travel from overseas to use the assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatment to choose the gender of their child.

Determining the sex of the embryo is achieved with a preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) test on the embryos. PGD is designed to help locate potentially damaging genetic conditions before implantation for certain couples with a high risk for them. It is possible, however, to determine the sex of each of the embryos at this time as well.

The treatment follows the general cycle of standard IVF treatment. During IVF, the mother’s eggs are removed from the ovary and fertilized by the father’s sperm in a laboratory. After the embryos have developed for three to five days, the doctor will transfer the best embryos to the mother’s uterus for implantation. In the gender selection process, however, only embryos of the desired gender are implanted. This treatment has almost a certainty (99.9 percent) of success.

Gender selection is not just for family balancing. Some patients use the treatment to avoid transmission of specific genetic diseases that are associated with either the X or Y chromosome. These “sex linked” diseases are prevented by only implanting the embryos that are of the opposite gender to the one predisposed to the condition.

With gender selection growing in demand from patients overseas, my practice sees at least 15 patients a month from Australia, where gender selection is not allowed. That number continues to grow. Patients interested in the treatment aren’t just from Australia, however. I recently visited London to speak to UK patients about the treatment. I see many patients from the United Kingdom every year as well.

Patients do not just travel to the United States for the treatment, however. Both Thailand and South Africa allow gender selection in their fertility clinics. Many women from China and Hong Kong travel to Thailand each year to balance their families. Experts estimate that over 10,000 treatments occur each year at an average cost of $15,000 per treatment. The estimated $150 million business in Thailand is growing each year by 20 percent, with three to four new petitions to open a clinic in Thailand each month.

Family balancing with IVF through the use of gender selection is growing in demand for patients all over the world. For couples that cannot risk leaving the sex of their child to chance, the treatment is the answer they have been seeking, and traveling overseas is a small price to pay to get it.


Marriner, Cosima. “After seven boys, one mum turned to a US clinic to conceive daughters.” Au. 3 June 2013. Web. 11 September 2014. <>

Kaye, Byron et al. “In Thailand, baby gender selection loophole draws, China, HK women to IVF Clinics.” 15 July 2014. Web. 11 September 2014. <>