Gender selection, which allows hopeful parents to choose the genetic sex of their next child, tests cells from the embryo(s) created through in vitro fertilization before implantation in the uterus. Prospective parents prefer to select the sex of their next child for a wide variety of medical, cultural, or personal reasons, including the prevention of genetic diseases and family-balancing.

Whether you’re struggling with infertility or interested in sex selection, navigating the process of in vitro fertilization can feel overwhelming. So, what is IVF, and how does gender selection work?

What is IVF?

In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is a widely known type of assisted reproductive technology (ART). IVF uses a combination of medicines and surgical procedures to help sperm fertilize an egg and to implant the fertilized egg in the uterus.

First, an infertility physician prescribes a medication that prepares several eggs for fertilization. Then, the physician removes the mature eggs (egg retrieval) and mixes them with sperm in a lab to help the sperm fertilize the eggs. After fertilization, the physician puts one or more fertilized eggs (embryos) into the uterus. Pregnancy occurs if any of the embryos implant in the lining of the uterus.

IVF is a complicated process, and it can take several months to complete the process. Sometimes, IVF works on the first try, but most couples need more than one round of IVF to get pregnant. If you’re struggling with fertility problems, IVF can increase your chance of pregnancy. However, everybody’s body is different, and IVF doesn’t work for everyone.

What is gender selection?

Gender selection allows parents to control the sex of their baby. Many patients choose IVF gender selection to help them create the family of their dreams or to prevent a child of either sex from suffering from a genetic disorder.

During the gender selection process, women undergo ovarian stimulation with fertility medications to produce multiple ovarian follicles, which are monitored with ultrasounds and bloodwork to determine the optimal time for ovulation. During the egg retrieval, a qualified infertility physician extracts the eggs using ultrasound guidance. After extraction, the fertility clinic fertilizes the eggs with sperm and lets the embryos grow to the blastocyst stage.

Next, the embryologist removes a few cells from the outer layer of the embryo to test them for chromosomal abnormalities, gender, and specific genetic diseases, if necessary. The removed cells, which would have become part of the placenta, are not necessary for the growth of the embryo and health of the baby. The fertility clinic then freezes the embryo until learning the results of gender and genetic testing.

Many prospective parents choose genetic screening to ensure they will transfer the most viable embryos to increase their success rates. Consequently, parents can learn the sex of their next child to have the option of creating the family of their dreams.

How much does IVF cost?

The costs of in vitro fertilization can vary. In the United States, some states have laws requiring health insurance to cover some or all of the costs of infertility treatment if an individual meets certain requirements. However, many insurance plans don’t offer coverage for fertility treatment.

If you’re considering in vitro fertilization, one of the most important steps you can take is to obtain a copy of your insurance policy. Working with a fertility clinic can help you maximize any financial benefits that are available under your insurance policy. Some managed care providers cover tests and treatments for infertility, including the diagnostic laparoscopy, which might also be done for the treatment of conditions such as endometriosis.

Whether you’re interested in planning the perfect family or screening for potential genetic diseases, all reasons to utilize gender selection are valid.