When it comes to making babies, I'm old-fashioned. Give me a bottle of wine and a night of throwing caution to the wind, and I'm happy to wait nine months to find out if my one evening of passion has resulted in a future full of trucks and trains or tutus and tiaras. But I also know that I'm one of the lucky ones. I have gotten pregnant easily, and I gave birth to first a daughter and then a son without ever really thinking about which gender I preferred.
For some parents, that much-desired son or daughter never arrives. And while it used to be that there wasn't much you could do to influence the old X and Y chromosomes, new advances in reproductive technology are now making it possible for parents to choose the sex of their baby.
How Do I Choose the Sex of My Baby?
Attempts to influence the gender of children at conception are not new. Historically, couples around the world have tried a variety of methods, many of them less-than-scientific, in the hopes of producing the desired male or female offspring. Some of these methods include:
- Consulting astrological charts (the full moon is thought to produce girls)
- Wooing the gods with special offerings
- Having intercourse on a certain side of the bed
- Eating spicy foods
- Timing conception based on ovulation (the Shettles Method)
- Spinning sperm in a laboratory (the Ericsson Method)
- Taking cold medicine and cough syrup
- Douching to change pH levels (this apparently involves a turkey baster)
Even though there are couples who swear by some of these options, none of them have been scientifically proven. According to the experts, your odds of conceiving a boy vs. girl remain at about 50/50 if you rely on one of the methods listed above. If you really feel strongly about choosing the sex of your baby, though, you do have another option.
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis
HRC Fertility, the West Coast's leading fertility clinic, recently launched a new website called Gender-Baby. Gender-Baby is intended as an educational tool for parents who want to choose the sex of their baby for either personal or medical reasons. Prospective parents can learn about various gender selection methods, including the highly effective method known as Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, or PGD.
"This Web site features some excellent videos from our team of doctors on issues like, 'How gender is determined,' 'what is PGD,' 'how treatment and travel are coordinated for gender selection' and 'the future of gender selection'," said Dr. David Tourgeman. "At HRC, we pride ourselves on fully educating our patient base about all technologies, possibilities and issues."
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis is a medical procedure that requires a couple to get pregnant via in vitro fertilization, also known as IVF. After embryos are created, they are examined in order to determine gender and to screen for basic chromosomal abnormalities. A couple is then able to determine which embryo(s) they choose to transfer to the uterus. HRC Fertility boasts a 99.9% accuracy rate in predicting an embryo's gender.
Considering Gender Selection?
Any couple interested in using reproductive technology has a lot to think about. For one thing, it isn't cheap. In vitro fertilization is expensive, and gender selection with PGD will add an extra $3,000 to $5,000 to the cost. IVF also comes with the possibility of complications, so couples who are choosing this option solely to determine the gender of their child may be taking unnecessary risks.
It is also important to consider that, while PGD is legal in the United States, it is not legal in some other countries. Gender selection has many opponents who strongly believe that the creation of so-called "designer babies" is both morally and ethically wrong.
A Question of Ethics?
Is gender selection ethical? It's a tough question, and there is no black and white answer. Human biology works as it does for a reason, and I personally believe that we ignore it at our own peril. Reproductive technology opens up a world of possibility for couples who struggle with infertility, but you have to wonder if opening the door to include gender selection (and also genetic screening) represents a misuse of our constantly evolving scientific capabilities.
HRC Fertility, of course, strongly believes in the services they provide.
"Our goal at HRC is to offer a complete suite of services for all couples wanting to build the family of their dreams."
Building the family of your dreams? Quite frankly, it's all just a little too Brave New World for my taste. Yes, you can choose the sex of your baby and attempt to build your so-called "perfect" family. But wouldn't you always wonder about the "imperfect" family that might have been?
The Rolling Stones say that even if "you can't always get what you want...you just might find you get what you need." Personally, I tend to agree with them.