IVF Gender Selection: Pros and ConsFertility Treatment
Many couples prefer to choose the gender of their child for different reasons. Today, medical advances made it possible to choose the gender of future children with almost 100% accuracy.
By using the preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) technique _ IVF gender selection_, couples who use assisted reproduction techniques such as IVF can determine the gender of their baby before transferring the embryo to the uterus. This article introduces IVF gender selection and discusses its advantages and disadvantages.
What Is PGD?
As you may know, females and males have different sex chromosomes. Females have two of the same sex chromosome (XX), while males have an XY chromosome. During fertilization, if a sperm with an X chromosome fertilizes the egg, the baby will be a girl, but if a sperm with a Y chromosome fertilizes the egg, the baby will be a boy.
Using assisted reproductive technologies, the fertility specialist can determine the gender of a child before the implantation phase by using a new technique called PGD. In IVF gender selection, the specialists can separate embryos with X or Y chromosomes and transfer the desired one(s) into the mother's womb.
Reasons for Using PGD
prevent transferring genetic disorders
Genetic disorders such as hemophilia, thalassemia, or Down syndrome can be transferred to the embryo. Therefore, the parents with these disorders should have their embryos examined genetically using PGD. Also, if the disorder is gender-based (e.g., Turner syndrome, which is female-specific), the gender of the embryo should be determined with the help of PGD.
have a child of a specific gender for personal reasons
Although the gender of the baby is not a critical issue in today's world, some parents tend to have a child of a specific gender. Also, infertile couples with only one child throughout their life can determine the gender of their embryo with the help of PGD _ IVF gender selection.
Increase the chance of successful pregnancy
From the age of 35 onwards, the success rate of IVF decreases. Also, for women with a history of abortion and failed IVF, screening the embryos and detecting their disorders with PGD will increase the chance of having a successful pregnancy. Therefore, it is necessary to use the PGD technique to observe and screen the embryos intricately.
The procedure of IVF Gender Selection
The procedure of IVF gender selection involves two phases; one for developing and testing the embryo and one other for preparing the uterus and transferring the embryo. In the following, these phases are explained in detail.
First, the female partner should start taking ovulation induction drugs from days 2-4 of her menstrual cycle to produce more mature and high-quality eggs. The higher the number of mature eggs, the higher the chance of successful pregnancy.
In this step, the mature eggs are retrieved from the uterus or ovaries around 10 to 12 days after starting hormonal medications. The egg harvesting process is simple and requires no anesthesia, incision, or stitches. The doctor retrieves the egg by using ultrasound and a narrow tube called a catheter and then immediately transfers the eggs to the embryology lab.
The eggs are first placed in a nourishing dish in the embryology lab, similar to the fallopian tubes’ environment. Then, 4 hours after retrieval, the eggs are fertilized with the male partner’s sperm via ICSI or IVF. The resulting embryos are transferred to the incubators -with controlled temperature and humidity- to be developed into blastocysts. If the couple prefers not to take PGD, the embryo can be transferred 3 days after its formation, but if they need PGD, they should wait more days because PGD can only be done on a blastocyst (5 to the 7-day embryo).
In the blastocyst stage, embryos have two tissues; one that becomes a fetus and one that becomes a placenta. In embryo biopsy, the doctor removes 3-6 cells from the placenta tissue via laser and performs genetic tests. At this stage, the embryo’s chromosomal abnormalities and gender can be determined using PGD or PGT.
After performing a biopsy and genetic tests, the embryo gets frozen in tanks filled with liquid nitrogen until the results of the tests are determined. Freezing the embryo does not change the quality of the embryo and has no negative effect on the success rate of IVF.
Uterus preparation for transfer
To successfully implant, the uterus should be prepared, and the endometrial lining should be thick enough to hold the embryo. Although it is possible not to take any medication and have a natural FET (frozen embryo transfer) cycle, it is highly recommended that the mother takes estrogen and progesterone supplements before and after FET to increase the chance of successful implantation.
Frozen embryo transfer
Finally, the genetically-tested embryo with the desired sex is transferred to the mother’s uterus with the help of a catheter and ultrasound. The frozen embryo transfer process is quite simple and is mainly done under local anesthesia. The mother can take a pregnancy test 14 days after FET.
IVF Gender Selection Risks
As mentioned before, during the IVF procedure, the female partner has to take multiple hormone medications to stimulate ovulation and prepare her body for implantation. These drugs have irritating complications such as bloating, nausea, breast tenderness, frequent headaches, weight gain, rash, mood swings, and anxiety, and most importantly, they may cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).
Moreover, to retrieve some cells for PGT, the fertility specialist should either use a unique laser device or a biopsy technique to remove some cells from the frozen embryo. During this procedure, the embryo may accidentally be damaged or demolished.
IVF Gender Selection Pros and Cons
Selecting the gender of a child is either elective or mandatory due to medical reasons. In any case, IVF gender selection has some advantages and disadvantages that every couple should know about.
Advantages of IVF sex selection
- Parents can plan their family as they wish: many couples prefer their firstborn to be of a specific gender. Also, some people long for a boy or girl so much that they continue to have babies until they get the sex they want, which can affect the quality of their lives.
- Parents can choose the gender they can raise better: as you may know, raising and training a boy is much different than raising a girl because they have different attitudes and needs. So the parents can raise and support a mentally and psychologically prepared child.
- Parents can prepare for the baby's coming: knowing the gender of the child before the implantation allows the would-be parents to prepare and provide the necessary stuff in time.
- The risk of passing on genetic disorders is reduced: couples with genetic disorders (especially gender-related ones) can use PGD to minimize the risk of passing on their diseases to the baby.
- Parents who have lost a child can have a baby of the same gender: couples who have lost a child in the past find it comforting and helpful to have a child of the same sex.
- It prevents further expenses: sometimes, an infertile couple wants a boy or girl so much that they repeat the IVF procedure until they get the sex they wish. Since IVF is a costly procedure, by doing PGD, the couple can have the gender they want on their first try and avoid extra expenses.
Disadvantages of IVF sex selection
- It is expensive: PGD is costly, so couples who have apportioned a limited budget for IVF may find it impossible to use the PGD technique.
- The morality of gender selection is in question: as it is commonly believed that God should make gender selection, some people think that the parents should not choose the gender of their child.
- Parents may change their minds in the future: some people think that parents may change their minds in the long future if things do not work out the way they want, impacting the baby's life.
Ethical Considerations in IVF Sex Selection
Although IVF sex selection has many advantages, such as decreasing the rate of abortion and congenital disabilities, some people believe that it is ethically problematic and can harm individuals and society by unbalancing the gender of the population. Also, some believers think God must choose the embryo’s sex and humans should not interfere. In any case, it’s up to the parents to select the gender of their baby with PGD.
IVF Gender Selection Cost in Iran
The IVF gender selection cost in Iran varies according to the age of the parents, the quality of the embryo, the number of embryos to be tested and transferred, the number of times the IVF procedure should be repeated, the specialist's experience and level of knowledge, and the type (private or public) and facilities of the hospital. In most cases, the cost of PGD is almost more expensive than the cost of standard IVF, and pgd cost in Iran is about 3000$, as it includes additional steps (such as embryo biopsy) and tests (PGT).
Overall, gender selection with IVF is one of the most accurate and advanced techniques of sex determination which has drawn the attention of many couples during the last decade. Contact us if you have questions regarding the exact cost, procedure, and the best clinics for PGD in Iran. Radinaa team assists you in applying for Iran medical visa, booking appointments with the best fertility clinics in Iran, booking accommodation near the medical centres, etc. It provides 24/7 support during and after the IVF procedure.
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