When couples go through an IVF process, one of the most common queries they have is “Can I select the gender of my baby?”. Gender selection that takes place during the IVF process is also referred to as IVF sex selection, where the embryo of the specific gender would be selected before being transferred into the mother’s uterus. We spoke to an IVF clinician, Dr Fong Yang from Astra Centre for Women and Fertility about the 5 most common questions regarding gender selection during IVF, in Singapore.
1. Can I choose my baby’s gender during IVF?
While there are medical procedures that can be done to determine the gender of the baby prior to embryo implantation, countries like Singapore do not allow IVF sex selection.
2. How does gender selection in IVF work?
A procedure known as preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) can be used to determine gender. This technique can only be used to determine gender before conception i.e. before the embryo is replaced into the woman’s uterus. A procedure is done, where a single cell is taken (biopsy) from a Day 5 embryo containing about 100 cells. This cell is then analysed for its chromosomal content, which includes the future gender of this embryo if it does become a fetus.
3. When is gender selection in IVF recommended?
The only time gender selection is recommended is if there is a sex-linked chromosomal disorder (X-linked recessive diseases) that is hereditary and transmitted from mothers who are carriers of the abnormal genes on the X chromosome. These conditions which are only passed on to male offspring may be serious or potentially fatal, like haemophilia or certain muscular dystrophies.
4. Is gender selection allowed in Singapore?
No, it is not. It is strictly regulated and should the need arise, the procedure can only be done in government hospitals. If you visit a private clinic for IVF treatment in Singapore and the doctor feels you might need to do an IVF sex selection, they will recommend you to a government hospital. The only circumstance in which this would be allowed is when there is a family history of chromosomal disorders that is hereditary as stated earlier.
5. How much would it cost to select the gender of my baby during IVF?
As gender selection during IVF only takes place if there is a medical reason, the cost is not readily known. Depending on your condition, the hospital you visit will recommend the most appropriate treatment plan and financial counselling will be provided.