May 22, 2013 | 11:29 AM (BD Time)
22 May, 2013 Wednesday
Choosing your baby’s sex
Can we choose the sex of our child: Yes, choosing the sex of your child is technically possible thanks to advances in fertility treatments that allow doctors to create or identify embryos of a certain sex. But today's sex-selection options aren't equally effective, affordable, or available. In addition, some techniques are unregulated in the UK.
The most accurate sex-selection methods are only allowed in the UK for medical reasons. They involve invasive infertility treatments and fertility drugs with side effects. They can also be very expensive. To use one of these techniques, you'll have to meet strict eligibility requirements. Other techniques are less accurate and only currently available in the UK in clinics which are unregulated.
Alternatively, there are some at-home techniques. These low-tech methods are noninvasive and affordable, and can be done in the privacy of your own home. However, their effectiveness is questionable at best.
Keep in mind that Mother Nature has already tipped the odds a bit in favour of boys in the sex-selection game. According to data released in 2006 from the Office for National Statistics, approximately 1,052 boys are born for every 1,000 girls.
Read on for more information on how today's sex-selection methods work, whether you're eligible to try them, and how much they cost.
An in vitro fertilisation technique in which embryos are created outside the womb and can then be tested for genetic disorders and gender.
In the UK, PGD is strictly regulated and can only be used to help couples or individuals with serious genetic disorders, such as haemophilia and cystic fibrosis. The technique reduces the risk of having a child suffering from the same condition. The gender of the embryo is used to select embryos for implantation where an inherited disease follows the male or female line, such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which only affects males. PGD is so tightly regulated in the UK that the HFEA decides whether the technique can be used on a case-by-case basis.
It is illegal to use this technique in the UK for sex selection purposes other than for medical reasons.
Effectiveness :Almost 100 per cent effective.
How it's done: During an IVF cycle, eggs are fertilised with sperm in a petri dish. A single cell or cells are later removed from each of the resulting 3- to 5-day-old embryos and tested for gender.
In a regular IVF cycle scientists try to determine which embryos are normal merely by looking at them under a microscope. But with PGD, the embryos are tested thoroughly for genetic abnormalities and sex. By transferring only healthy embryos to the uterus, you're less likely to miscarry or have a child with a genetic disorder. Prenatal tests such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) are still recommended if you're 35 or older because more genetic abnormalities can be detected later in pregnancy.
In a regular IVF cycle, doctors usually transfer two or more embryos to your uterus; the number depends on your age and the quality of the embryos. (If you're 40 or older, typically three embryos may be transferred.) But in PGD, doctors transfer no more than two because they've already weeded out embryos that are unlikely to implant or to result in a healthy pregnancy.
If you do get pregnant, PGD guarantees with almost 100 per cent certainty that you'll have a baby of your desired gender.
Following a PGD cycle, remaining embryos of the selected gender are automatically frozen. These can be used in another attempt, if you miscarry or decide you want more children down the road. Frozen embryo transfers aren't as successful as fresh transfers, but the procedure is less invasive and significantly cheaper.
A single round of PGD is extremely expensive and, although it is available on the NHS, funding is very limited. The procedure is invasive and the removal of eggs from your ovaries can be painful.
The fertility drugs you have to take can have uncomfortable side effects such as weight gain, bloating, swelling, and blurred vision.
As with any IVF pregnancy, you're more likely to have a multiple birth. According to the latest statistics from the HFEA, about 25 per cent of live births conceived by women as a result of fresh IVF were multiples. This rate falls with increasing age of the mother.
About 20 per cent of PGD cycles result in a live birth, which is slightly lower than the rates for IVF.
You'll need to decide what to do with the embryos of the undesired gender: freeze, destroy, or donate for other couples or research.
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