Family balancing is another term for gender selection and is used when a couple would like to choose the sex of embryo that will be transferred into the uterus.
One of the automatic results of preimplantation genetic testing is that we know the gender of each embryo due to the chromosomal information we uncover. For some, this information is valuable because it allows them to make decisions about how they plan their family – both now and in the future.
Based on the results of preimplantation genetic screening (PGS), couples can ultimately choose the sex of the embryos transferred into the uterus – it’s like having your first ultrasound before you’re ever pregnant.
PGS/PGD was first used to look for certain genetic disorders that are sex-linked, meaning they are passed through the maternal (mother’s) lineage. Examples include Fragile-X syndrome and Deschene’s Muscular Dystrophy. Thus, couples at higher-risk for conceiving babies with these disorders find it reassuring to learn the sex of their embryo(s) before transfer day so they can prevent passing these genetic disorders on to their offspring. However, this same information about the genetic makeup of an embryo is helpful for parents interested in selecting the gender of their children.
Each of your embryos has a pair of XX or XY chromosomes; females are XX and males are XY. When we use preimplantation screening (PGS), we remove a few placental cells from the developing embryo and count the chromosomes – usually checking for chromosomal abnormalities. The direct byproduct of this process is that we also uncover whether each embryo has an XX or XY pair of sex-chromosomes.
PGS and PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis) do add to your total IVF cycle costs, but because we use them primarily to screen for chromosomal and genetic abnormalities, the process may also limit the number of IVF cycles required for you to successfully conceive and deliver a healthy, full-term baby. When used for gender selection, the PGS process yields a 99% accuracy rate in determining the sex of an embryo.
Family balancing with IVF is synonymous with sex selection or gender selection. The most common reason individuals or couples choose to balance their family is that they already have multiple children of the same sex and would like to have a baby of the opposite sex. However, this isn’t always the case. We’ve also had parents who appreciate the idea of multiple, same-gendered offspring, especially when it comes to the budget-savviness and ease of reusing gendered clothes, toys, furniture, etc.
Family balancing is legal in the United States, although it is illegal in some other countries. In addition to our country’s innovative fertility solutions and high IVF success rates, family balancing is one of the reasons the United States is a popular destination for overseas couples interested in gender selection.
The choice to balance your family is yours alone – but the more information you have about this procedure – or other fertility treatment options – the better decision you’ll make for yourself and your family. Feel free to contact us here at the Northern California Fertility Medical Center to learn more about PGS, PGD and the family balancing process.