It is now technically possible to choose your next baby’s gender. Sex or gender selection is an important consideration for couples who want to avoid passing sex-linked genetic disorders to their next child. It may also be considered by parents who wish to balance out their family having a child of the other sex. Having said that, this option is neither fully effective nor easily affordable. The most accurate sex-selection methods are expensive, invasive and not without risks.
The methods used for gender selection include In Vitro fertilization plus preimplantation gender diagnosis (PGD), Ericsson method, sperm-sorting, etc. There are many ethical concerns and it is for these reasons that these methods are either not available or strictly controlled in various countries across the world.
The most widely known and attempted method for gender baby selection is the Shettles method. In his book How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby, Shettles elaborated that the male (Y) sperm is smaller, faster, and more short-lived than the female (X) sperm. Therefore, if you have sex closest to the time ovulation, you have a better chance of having a male baby, as the speedy male sperm could get to the egg sooner than the female one. Position also has been thought to play a role. Parents desiring a girl have been told to have sex in the missionary position about two to four days before ovulation so that by then only the more resilient X sperm will remain in the woman’s reproductive tract. These methods have little actual merit.
The high-tech approaches, on the other hand, have been shown to be effective in gender selection. These include the Microsort and PGS (through IVF) and have been detailed in our other articles.
Why would a couple hope to have a Boy or a Girl?
The reasoning could be medical and non-medical.
Medically, the most compelling reason is to avoid sex-linked genetic diseases in the offspring. There are conditions, such as hemophilia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy which occur in boys. And if there is a family history of one of these diseases, the couple may wish to conceive a girl.
However, in most cases, people have non-medical reasons. The most common of which is family balancing.
Research has found that in families with all boys, couples are more desirous of the next one will be a girl.
Couples may also prefer to have either a boy or girl for societal reasons – if in that society it is easier to raise male children, or, a planned single mom, for example, may feel more comfortable raising a girl, or a single male or gay male couple having a child may feel more comfortable raising a boy.
Death of a child of a specific gender is another deeply felt reason. After such a devastating event, they may want to have a child of the same or indeed, opposite sex.