Gender Selection Definition and Glossary
Are you interested in learning more about gender selection in family planning? To begin, here is a simple gender selection definition: “An attempt by parents to influence, determine, or elect the sex of a child prior to egg fertilization or embryo transfer.” In other words, using techniques that create an embryo (fertilized egg) of the gender desired.
Sperm sorting prior to artificial insemination is an example of an attempt to increase the chances of conceiving a child of the preferred sex. Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD) is an example of gender selection that identifies the XX or XY chromosome combination in the developing embryo and ensures that the child will be of the preferred gender. PGD is currently the only way to accurately select for gender.
Gender Selection Definition: Medical vs. Elective
Gender selection may be performed for medical reasons or for personal reasons. Medical reasons include reducing the chances of bearing a child with sex-linked genetic disorders such as hemophilia or Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This is a commonly accepted use for sex selection technology.
All other uses of gender selection are currently considered elective. The reasons may be social, cultural, or psychological. For example, parents may wish to have a child of a specific gender to balance their family after having one or more children of the opposite gender. Currently, elective gender selection with PGD is available to patients in the United States.
Other Gender Selection Definitions and Fertility Treatment Terms to Know
Embryo Biopsy: This is a procedure that involves using a laser to make a tiny hole in the outer shell of an egg. A fine needle is inserted and used to remove cells from the developing embryo for testing.
Gender Swaying: This term refers to practices or products that might increase the chances of having a boy or a girl. The results with these methods are expected to be far less than 100% successful. In most cases, they are likely to have little or no impact on the chances of having a child of the desired gender.
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): This term is used to refer specifically to the fertilization of an egg outside the womb. In more general terms, it refers to an entire process of fertility treatment including egg recruitment, retrieval, fertilization, and embryo transfer to the uterus.
Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI): This procedure involves the injection of a single sperm into an egg to ensure fertilization. This method may be used when few viable, normal sperm are available or when an egg has been previously frozen, hardening the outer membrane. ICSI is used with PGD to avoid contaminating the genetic analysis with the DNA of more than one sperm.
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD): This is a chromosomal screening test that can be used to identify embryos with an abnormal number of chromosomes (aneuploidy) and certain genetic disorders. It can also be used to identify the sex chromosomes of an embryo to determine if it is XX or XY.
Sex Selection: This is a term used interchangeably with the term gender selection. Both are considered correct in the context of fertility treatment.
Sperm Sorting: This is a process by which sperm is separated based on various characteristics. It may be used in fertility treatment to remove abnormal sperm and increase the chances that healthy sperm will be used in Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). It is sometimes used to sort sperm for X or Y chromosomes, with mixed results. There is currently no reliable method of sperm sorting.
For further education about gender selection and fertility treatment, contact Santa Monica Fertility at (866) 991-1990.