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Despite being a controversial topic, gender selection is regulated by law in many countries, including North Cyprus. This article will explain how the selection is made, how the treatment works and when it’s recommended.
How is the selection made? Men and women have different sex chromosome combinations. Egg cells from the female always carry an X chromosome while male sperm carries either an X or a Y chromosome. Selecting a sperm that contain a desired X or Y chromosome or embryos containing either XX or XY chromosome pairs enables doctors to select the sex of the child.
f a sperm with an X chromosome meets the mother’s egg, then the resulting embryo and baby will be a girl with an XX chromosome. If a sperm with a Y chromosome fertilises the woman’s egg cell, the resulting child will be a boy with an XY chromosome.
How does the treatment work?
Gender selection is performed through genetic testing. The embryos with the desired sex are then implanted into the woman's uterus.
The preferred method of sex selection involves In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in conjunction with Preimplantation Genetic Testing (embryonic testing – also known as PGS or PGD), so it’s not a stand-alone service.
Tests currently used require viable cell DNA, which can be obtained from an embryo starting from Day 3. The cells inside an embryo are called blastomeres, and there are about eight blastomeres in a Day 3 embryo. Thus, one or two blastomeres from a Day 3 embryo can be taken out for genetic testing - this procedure is called Embryo Biopsy.
The embryo at its later stages is called Blastocysts, and Blastocyst Biopsy can be performed to remove a cluster of cells for genetic testing. Cells are removed after the biopsies are tested using the FISH and PCR techniques.
Broadly speaking, IVF treatment has four main stages:
- Ovarian stimulation with hormone-based medication
- Egg retrieval from the ovaries
- Egg fertilization and embryo developing until day 3-7 (at this stage genetic testing apply to embryos to identify the genetic issues and gender)
- Embryo transfer into the uterus
When is gender selection recommended?
Gender selection can be used:
- in sex-linked disorders, the son of a woman carrying an x-linked disease will be affected by the disease. In situations such as these, PGD (Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis) should be performed.
- By families who already have many children of one sex and want to balance, so they can choose to have a child of the opposite sex.
Also, done, if possible, to eliminate the affected embryos or PGS to select the female embryos for transfer.