Many people long to have a baby of a certain gender. Though it's not often talked about in modern culture, it's quite common. Most people would like a chance to parent both genders. Some people would prefer to have sons, and others would prefer to have daughters. There are different methods of gender selection available today. Some of these require medical intervention and are called "high tech" gender selection. Others are natural methods that can be done without a laboratory.
High-Tech Gender Selection
There are a couple of different types of high-tech selection. Pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis, or PGD, is the only 100% certain way to choose your baby's gender.
PGD is used to diagnose many things within an early embryo -- it can be used to check the health of the newly fertilized baby, look for certain genetic or inheritable diseases, and to determine the sex of the baby.
When PGD is used for sex selection, called "family balancing," embryos of the desired gender are evaluated for health. The healthiest ones are selected and placed back into the mother's uterus.
PGD brings with it disadvantages. Firstly, it's extremely expensive. It's also limited to couples who want to use it for family balancing -- a family that only wants girls or only wants boys will not be able to use it. In general it can't be used for a first child, either.
Many people have trouble with PGD because it creates embryos of both sexes -- and the opposite sex embryos are simply discarded or frozen. This creates ethical and moral problems for many families who don't want to create embryos only to discard them.
As with many assisted reproductive technologies, the chance of multiples increases with PGD.
Another high-tech procedure is called Microsort. This procedure sorts sperm in a laboratory so that a sperm sample contains mostly sperm carrying chromosomes for the desired sex. This procedure has a high success rate, though it's not 100% guaranteed. The success rate for girls is higher than for boys. Microsort can be used with IUI procedures or the more costly IVF procedures.
Microsort is still subject to government testing and hasn't gotten 100% approval. As with PGD it tends to be limited to certain families. Most families admitted to the trials are trying to avoid having a child with a sex-linked genetic condition.
Natural Gender Selection
There are far more theories on natural sex selection than I can possibly cover in this article. For simplicity's sake I will group them all under the "natural" heading.
Natural methods are not 100% guaranteed. Rather than assuring you you'll get the sex you desire, you're able to "sway the odds" using methods that science has shown may influence the sex of your child.
Scientific studies in humans and animals do show that we can influence the sex of our children. Various things like diet, body pH, and possibly the timing of intercourse can all have an influence. Hormones within both the father and the mother also seem to have an influence on the sex of a child.
Many families feel more comfortable with natural gender selection because they can influence things in favor of the gender they desire without undergoing any costly medical procedures. There are also no excess embryos left after assisted reproductive procedures. These families also sometimes feel that if they get the opposite of what they were hoping for that it was meant to be that way.
Natural sex selection has the obvious disadvantage of not being a 100% guarantee. Supplements to change the environment in favor of one sex may also be expensive. Some mothers also find the diet and exercise regimes for a certain sex to be challenging.
Anybody can use natural selection techniques, however, making this method far more accessible to most families.
By the way, do you want to learn more about how to choose the gender of your baby, naturally, using techniques that are safe and effective for you and your baby?