MicroSort is the newest innovation in pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), which is a technique that analyzes the x and y chromosomes within a group of embryos (fertilized with in-vitro fertilization, or IVF) to predict preexisting genetic diseases like cystic fibrosis, thalassemia, hemophilia, and down syndrome. The chosen embryos are then implanted into the mother using IVF embryo transfer.
Consequently, the PGD procedure is also able to increase the chances of a couple conceiving a child of a specific gender.
Like many advanced infertility treatments, PGD for gender selection has caused quite a bit of controversy in countries around the world, including the United States. This procedure has raised many questions regarding the social responsibility and ethical practices of infertility clinics that offer this service.
Because of the debate surrounding PGD for gender selection, many people travel abroad to undergo PGD. Gender selection is legal in a few select countries, including the US, but it is vital for patients to conduct thorough research before considering an infertility treatment of this nature.
Although PGD gives couples the chance to safely conceive a healthy child, many people argue that it is wrong to choose certain embryos over others solely based on gender.
The MicroSort method is different in that it doesn’t require embryos to be created for testing.
This technique works because the sperm determine the sex of the child. Sperm either carry female (X-bearing sperm) chromosomes or male (Y-bearing sperm) chromosomes. During natural or IVF fertilization, sperm have about 50% X-bearing sperm and 50% Y-bearing sperm, but MicroSort is able to produce an average of 88% X-bearing sperm, and an average of 74% Y-bearing sperm.
The MicroSort process actually sorts the sperm prior to fertilization, which means no embryos are discarded. Even though MicroSort doesn’t 100% guarantee a certain gender, it raises the odds quite dramatically. MicroSort can be used with intrauterine insemination (IUI), in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) to achieve pregnancy.
MicroSort technology was developed at the Genetics and IVF Center in Fairfax, Virginia, where after undergoing a slough of clinical trials, the FDA banned the procedure for the purposes of gender selection. According to the FDA, the MicroSort procedure should only be used for “couples attempting to prevent sex-linked or sex-limited disease.”
In the United States, the clinical trials are currently only available in Fairfax, Virginia and at Huntington Reproductive Center Clinic in Laguna Hills, California, for couples looking to reduce the chance of sex-linked or sex-limited genetic diseases.
Although MicroSort has been proven to be safe and effective, the ethical issues surrounding the “public health benefit” of gender selection have surfaced yet again.
Many people are worried that gender selection is like “playing God” and has even been described as “sexist”, but is it really any more unnatural than plastic surgery, or even heart transplantation?
Patients turn to medicine for help in many different scenarios; why does gender selection always seem to be excluded?
Edgar Dahl is the spokesperson for the German Society for Reproductive Medicine. He supports the idea of gender selection with MicroSort, and has spent a decade surveying people in Germany, Britain, the United States, Pakistan, Jordan and Trinidad and Tobago regarding this controversial subject. In his findings, Dahl reported, “First, there is no preference for children of a particular gender anymore. Second, if there is any preference at all, it is a preference for having children of both sexes.”
Dahl also stated that, “The overwhelming majority of couples seeking gender selection—more than 90%--are couples who already have three or more children of the same sex longing to have at least one child of the opposite sex.”
Fortunately, there is hope for couples that have continually tried for a certain gender with no luck. MicroSort is available (and legal) for gender selection in Mexico, and the procedure will also be offered starting this summer in Cyprus.
To learn more about MicroSort and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), find an infertility (IVF) specialist worldwide and see how they stand on this controversial new infertility procedure.
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.