What is Gender Selection?
Gender selection, or sex selection, is a fertility procedure used to choose the gender of a baby prior to conception. While the desire to choose a baby boy or a baby girl has probably been present throughout human history, it is only recently that the technology to do so has become clinically possible and available. With improvements in gender selection technology, demand for gender selection has also been growing steadily.
Two medical advances have been the driving forces behind the increasing demand for sex selection: 1) improvements in understanding of genetic diseases and 2) improvements in the ability to genetically assess embryos before transfer into the uterus (called Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis or PGDPreimplantation Genetic Diagnosis or PGD ).
Gender Selection for Medical Reasons
When gender selection is used to prevent a genetic disease, the process is called "medical gender selection." In the so-called "sex-linked diseases," genetic diseases are inherited via the mother, and only male offspring are affected. This type of genetic diseases include muscular dystrophy and hemophilia, among others. Parents who are carriers of these genetic diseases may want to reduce the risk of having affected children by having female babies only.
In other cases, conditions are more severely expressed in one gender (Fragile X syndrome, autism, etc.) than the other. Parents who are carriers of one of these genetic diseases can choose to have babies of the gender associated with a less severe form of the disease.
Medical reasons for gender selection can also be psychological: a single female may feel better equipped to have a daughter than a son; parents who lost a child may feel a strong need for a child of the same gender.
Elective Gender Selection
Sometimes gender selection can be "non-medical" or "elective." In such cases, a child of a specific gender is desired without obvious medical indications. The most frequent indication for such gender selection is "family balancing," when one gender is already represented in the family unit and the other gender is desired.
Last Updated: November 15, 2014