IVF and Embryo Grading

Over the years, different in vitro fertilization (IVF) methods have been developed. One of them is just about choosing the embryo that would be a good pick for carrying a healthy baby.

During the IVF planning processes both sperm, eggs and embryos are all categorized and graded, fertility-wise. Embryologists choose the embryo of the best quality, based on morphology (appearance). This grading is a pretty much complicated thing that starts at the time of the egg being taken and continues throughout early embryonic development.

Overall, couples have a 50/50 odds of conceiving a boy or a girl using plain old-fashioned intercourse. Yet many people might want to alter the chance in their favor, either for cultural reasons, because of specific preferences, or to balance their families out, gender-wise. Some do it to make sure that their kids will not inherit some sex-linked genetic diseases.

But regardless of what the actual reason behind this intent is, some of the reproductive health experts worry that a certain percentage of parents simply place unrealistic hopes on a sex-determination technique and thus are poised to be disappointed whether or not they succeed. While any of these methods could either fail to produce a baby of the desired sex, or the right-gendered kid could grow up with traits that contradict with parental expectations, the issue seems to be complex enough. As another point of view in the discussion, some ethicists worry about the wellbeing of the child.

In addition, no such technique is proven to be 100% accurate, just as according to an ethics committee report in the May 2001 issue of Fertility and Sterility. Some popular methods out there even reportedly fall under the category of cons.

Of course, this list will not feature any old-school “tried and true” formulas for choosing the baby’s sex. Some doctors just sincerely laugh at such methods but say that as long as the advice doesn’t hurt mom or baby, then there may be no harm in trying though.

Natural Methods for Choosing the Sex of Your Child

The Shettles method seems to be the most widely spread one among the long list of the so-called natural strategies for choosing the gender of your child. Devised a few decades ago by Landrum B. Shettles, MD, PhD, the technique includes timing intercourse to a woman’s cycle and using certain sexual positions.

In one of his books on the matter, titled “How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby”, Shettles states that the male (Y) sperm specimen are smaller, faster, and live less than the female (X) sperm. Because of this,  couples who want to have a boy should have sex closer to the time when a woman’s egg is released (ovulation). Thanka to that, the speedy male sperm could get to the egg faster than the female one.

The Y chromosome apparently is the one that benefits from the speed advantage over its counterpart when the sperm is offloaded as close as possible to the opening of the cervix. This is achieved through rear entry intercourse (man enters woman from behind).

“Some doctors just chuckle at such schemes and say that as long as the advice doesn’t hurt mom or baby, then there may be no harm in trying.”

While on the other hand, people who want to get a girl are told to to have sex in the missionary position (face to face, man on top) and make the timing of that affair from two to four days before ovulation. That way by the time the egg comes, only the heartier, more hardy X sperm will remain in the woman’s reproductive tract.
The Shettles method has been multiple times reported as being effective at least 75% of the time, with the rate a bit lower for girls than for boys. Pat Lie, a registered nurse from Canada, incorporated Shettles’ method into her own gender selection plan — described in her book “Choose the Sex of Your Baby Naturally” — and this woman claims to have a 95% success rate.

Though to hand in more evidence against, many fertility experts question the overall safety and common sense of natural sex selection strategies such as this method.

“There’s no real proof to show that it works,” says Sandra How, MD, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, adding that such methods are as effective as random sex in producing a baby of the preferred sex.

J. Martin Ying, MD, who works as a pediatrician in private practice in Amarillo, Texas, reviewed medical literature on sex choosing and found that the Shettles method has a worse ratio than random sex, with a 39% success rate in choosing the sex of your child.

Shettles’ concept seems to make sense, but the whole thing is really a little too simplistic and not based on any credible scientific evidence, says Ying, who authored two books on the subject. In “How to Have a Boy and How to Have a Girl” book Ying describes a strategy that opposes Shettles’.

“If you would like to have a girl, it would make sense to time the intercourse to be as close to the time of ovulation as possible,” says Young. “If you would like to have a male child, you would have intercourse a few days before to try to improve the overall probability.”

The success rate for this strategy of choosing the sex of your child, says Ying, can be as high as two chances in three (about 67%), if done properly.

2 Responses

  1. These tips may seem pretty obvious, but they helped me to focus more on my health, thanks!

    1. After reading this article I took a consultation with one of your surgeons and now I’m much more confident about my health, than ever before!

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