Gender selection is a technique which allows couples to increase the odds of delivering a child of a particular sex. As discussed above, certain medical indications may exist which require gender selection in order to ensure the well-being of a child (see PGD/sex-linked disorders). Couples without a specific sex-linked genetic mutation may pursue gender selection for the purpose of family balancing.
Gender selection can be performed with a variety of techniques, which vary in accuracy and success. The simplest method is the Ericksson sperm washing/insemination protocol, which is easy to perform and affordable, but achieves limited accuracy. Using the Ericksson method sperm is suspended in a special washing solution and then "spun" in a centrifuge for several minutes, allowing for a separation between X-bearing sperm (which lead to a female) and Y-bearing sperm (which would result in a male) based on different density gradients. Because this separation is not absolute but rather contains an overlap between a population of X-bearing and Y-bearing sperm, this technique can result in inaccuracy. Couples choosing the Ericksson method for gender selection look to give themselves an advantage towards one gender over the other, rather than a clear choice.
A more complex method of sperm selection uses the Microsort® technology. In this protocol, X-chromosome bearing sperm is separated from Y-chromosome bearing sperm using a flow cytometer. Accuracy of the Microsort® technology is limited and depends on the gender desired (female more accurate than male). Since the amount of sex-selected sperm available after sorting is often too little for insemination to be successful, in vitro fertilization is generally the procedure performed in conjunction with the Microsort® technique. Unfortunately, despite encouraging accuracy results for gender selection, the Microsort® technique failed to receive FDA approval, and the company who initially conceived the technique was forced to terminate its clinical trial, making this technology unavailable as of April 2011.
The most accurate method for gender selection available today involves preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). PGD may be combined with either the Ericksson and/or the Microsort® technique(s) to improve sperm selection, however differs from the abovementioned protocols in that it allows definitive determination of an embryo's gender prior to implantation in the uterus. After embryos are conceived through IVF, each embryo is biopsied prior to embryo transfer, and a specific chromosomal test is applied in order to determine gender (XX=female, or XY=male). Other chromosomal abnormalities may also be ruled out with the biopsy. Then, chromosomally normal embryos of the desired gender (only female embryos, for example), are transferred into the uterus. Accuracy rates reach 99% or higher. The technique is safe and highly successful.
Located in Southern California, and serving a highly diverse ethnic population with large cultural and traditional backgrounds, often with unique family balancing needs, the California Center for Reproductive Health (CCRH) has become a leading gender selection Center in Los Angeles and its periphery. CCRH is proud to offer the latest innovations in sex selection to patients in the Greater Los Angles area and beyond.