If you’re hoping for a girl, or really dreaming of a boy, you can have your wish. The truth is that primarily, every expectant couple wants a healthy child, but secretly hopes to have a gender preference for their next pregnancy.

Sex or gender selection, or family balancing, is the process of determining the genetic sex, male or female, of each embryo created through IVF.

There are a variety of reasons, both medical and personal, that you may opt to select the sex of your child.

Either for cultural reasons or just for balancing, selecting the gender of your baby has its rewards. 

There are many theories to this sex selection or gender selection adventure, unfortunately, as interesting as they may sound, there’s no naturally proven way to influence gender. 

One of the theories is about having intercourse three days before you ovulate and then having zero intercourse after ovulation to maximize your chances of having a girl, but it doesn’t always work. 

If you want a boy, the advice to have sex only on the day you ovulate doesn’t usually provide the expected result either.

Gender determination is essentially a science. Men and women bring two different sets of chromosomes to the baby-making equation. Women carry two X chromosomes and men carry both an X and a Y; each contributes one chromosome through the egg and sperm respectively. 

Look at it this way – all eggs are Xs, but sperm can be either X or Y so it’s really the man’s contribution that determines gender.

However it is more complicated than it appears. Certain sperm do have a competitive advantage depending on when you have intercourse. 

The sperm that has a Y chromosome is a lot smaller and has a lot less genetic material on it so it’s lighter and faster than the X-bearing sperm. 

The theory is that if you have intercourse right at the time the egg is released, all the fastest sperm that get to the egg will be Y-bearing sperm. 

So having intercourse any earlier means that Y sperms will have theoretically burned off their energy and died off by the time the egg was released. Because the female-oriented sperm are naturally more resilient, they would theoretically stick around to fertilize the ovum when it eventually came down from the ovary through the fallopian tube. .

While that all makes sense in theory, it hasn’t been proven to work out that way in real life. More importantly, the method may actually leave you without a pregnancy at all, because even though you are having sex, you may miss ovulation altogether, minimizing your chances of getting pregnant. 

However the scientifically certified way of doing gender selection is preimplantation genetic testing (PGD).

The sex identification of embryos is done using preimplantation genetic testing PGD, which involves taking a few cells from an embryo as it develops in the lab, and determining the sex, boy or girl, of the embryos through genetic analysis.

After the genetic analysis and screening, only the healthy embryos of the desired sex are implanted in a woman during an embryo transfer procedure.

The PGD screening can also be done to screen for medical conditions, or for couples that have had multiple miscarriages or failed past IVF cycles, or advanced maternal age. With a normal IVF cycle, about 40 to 50 percent of implanted embryos will result in a healthy pregnancy. Using a screened embryo increases those chances to about 60 to 70 percent. 

If screening indicates that there are healthy embryos of both genders, you can choose the gender to implant. It’s usually an issue of balance. 

After embryos are screened, in only about 15 to 20 percent of cases are there equally healthy embryos of each gender to choose from. 

Thanks to ongoing breakthroughs in assisted reproductive technology (ART) and a deeper understanding of genetics, preconception gender selection is not only possible, it’s also incredibly precise and is becoming increasingly popular with couples in Nigeria.

Enabling couples select the gender of their children is an important aspect of Assisted Reproductive Treatment, ART.

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