Health: Gender selection kits

(Columbia) May 13, 2004 - Veronica Moister adores her son, but when it came time to have another child, she wanted a little girl, "As a woman, I wanted to be able to relive some of my childhood memories, through a child."

Veronica did research and then put her hopes in a new at-home gender selection kit, "I was skeptical as anyone would be skeptical about anything."

Her skepticism vanished after she found out she was pregnant with a girl. She used GenSelect, a kit made in Columbia. It's available online for about $200. Manufacturers claim a 96% success rate.

Jill Sweazy is with the company. She says the kit comes with tools to create a gender bias, including ovulation predictors, douches, and specialized vitamins, "The three factors that GenSelect addresses are intercourse timing, vaginal vault ph, and body chemistry."

Dr. Joseph SanFilippo is with the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. He says there's little scientific evidence that these methods improve your odds, "The problem here is, there's a lack of such well-studied research when we look at these kits related to gender selection."

The Food and Drug Administration says the kit is not approved for gender selection, although Sweazy says some of the individual components are approved for gynecological purposes, "The components that require FDA approval are the ovulation predictor and the digital basil body thermometer."

The Andrology Institute of America is selling another kit online for just under $1000. Dr. Panos Zavos says it uses semen separation and insemination, "If we can offer something at home, people will take it more than, rather than going to the doctor's office."

You ship a sperm sample overnight in a styrofoam cooler with the kit. The male and female sperm are separated and your sample is mailed back along with instructions on how to inseminate.

Embryologist Etta Volk warns that self-insemination can cause infection, "Placing the semen inside the vaginal cavity when they receive it is not a rocket engineer's type of a procedure. But, in spite of that, we warn them that artificial insemination is a physician-prescribed procedure."

She also cautions, if sperm is not properly stored and shipped, your odds of getting pregnant drop, "It could lose its motility. If it's, if it's exposed to extreme temperatures, it could, it could compromise the viability of the sample."

Others dismiss the criticism and report an 80% success rate for male selection and 72% for female.

Veronica dreams of having a girl, but her main desire is to have a healthy baby, "Listen, if we had a boy, he would be equally as loved and that would be fine."

There are techniques available at some fertility clinics and doctor's offices to aid gender-selection, including the sperm-sorting technique called MicroSort.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine tells us it is awaiting further research before taking a position.

Reported by Dawn Mercer
Posted 10:33pm by BrettWitt