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Should I Spin My Husband's Sperm?

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Guest blogger Jessica Katz: When I get pregnant with my daughter, all I wanted was a little girl and everything pink and feminine -- and I got it. I was thrilled that my husband didn't really care either way. And we knew we would have another child. However, I have several friends who are talking about spinning their sperm -- well, their husbands' sperm -- to ensure the sex of their next baby.

MicroSort is a technique for separating X and Y sperm, with a success rate of 91 percent for a girl and 76 percent for a boy. This is the only method proven to effectively sort X and Y sperm, and is available only in the U.S. My friends who are thinking about this have two boys and want to ensure that the third child is a girl. They are hesitant to even have a third if they can't guarantee a girl -- three boys appears to be a lot to handle! 

I had never thought of doing this. I guess I'd always thought I would take what nature gave me -- but then again, I got my girl. My main concern was about the sorted sample used to get pregnant: It's inserted via either artificial insemination (IUI) or in-vitro fertilization (IVF). And since my husband and I had no trouble getting pregnant on our own, the thought of going through IUI or IVF was not appealing. 

On top of that, the sorting process isn't perfect. After an XSort, 10 percent of the sorted sample, on average, will consist of unwanted Y sperm. After a YSort, 24 percent of the sorted sample, on average, will consist of unwanted X sperm. This means that although your odds of having the desired gender have been drastically and reliably improved over nature, it is still possible to have the opposite of what you want. And although this is uncommon, yes, it does happen. 

Also, the process is costly: roughly $7,000. That's a lot of money, especially considering that you are not guaranteed the desired result. But the question I hear most is, "Are we messing with nature? Should we just be grateful to be pregnant and have a healthy baby, no matter what the sex may be?"

When my mom was pregnant, she would always say, "I don't care what it is, as long as it is healthy." I thought she was being so PC: Of course you care. You have to have a preference! However, she had two girls and two boys, so perhaps not. I am sort of indifferent as far as my second pregnancy goes, because I've already gotten my girl. 

So many things can go wrong just having a baby that the idea of messing with the sperm prior to conception scares me. It is already such a fragile process. Every screening and ultrasound and blood test proves that. And I am not sure there's enough data to show the long-term effects of this process (if any). 

If people can't conceive on their own, I am all for them doing whatever they can to have a baby. But if it's just a matter of pink or blue, should we really be playing God?

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10 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous November 30, 2010, 10:37 AM

Hello to all mom.s and dad.s. There was a story on Goodmorning America on 11-29-10 about children are becoming obesed. On Channel 5ktla back in 1982 to 1983 they had a story about milk everyone is drinking that story said the dairy farmers are injecting their cows with a growth hormone and it goes to the milk the cows produce and the BIGGEST product is WHOLE MILK. This was a big health news to my family that we swtched from whole milk to 2%milk and all your restaurant uses 2% milk for cost cutting. In that story the said it was making mice,rats fatter and gaining weight. and the mice and rats was also having babies at a early age in mice and rats and also developing cancer in the mice and rats sex organs and breast. and we can see the results from it nowsince that story about milk with growth hormones and it is our children now to become pregnate at ages 8-9years old and boys to go into puberty early too at ages 8-9 years old too. and be overweight too if parents are aking their children still drink whole milk. my son works in a restaurant and he see,s the customer who order.milk it is 2% at the restaurant where he work at and after taking a sip from a large glass of milk the customer.s child will not drink anymore because their child wants the whole milk instead and after the family leaves to go home or go tosee movies or shopping. my son cleans up after a customer the 1-4 cups of milk the family left it is wasted down the drain and into the sewers because the family likes whole milk instead of 2% milk well if they would lower the price on whole milk your large and small restaurant would get the whole milk but it would also be a price for everyone to pay later down the road of gainning weight and devoloping faster or start to go into pubertyat ages 8 or 9 years old. they even had a story of a girl in South Africa at age 8 years old she gave birth to a baby this year around the first week of November 2010. so this is a big health issue for mom,s and parent everywhere and to everyone too. and parents should not give their babies soda pop until 5-6 years old and to only give their children fruit juices milk and water and the soda pop should only be 12 onces only. nomore 24 onces to 64onces and only drink soda pop as a treat and don,t drink it everyday or awhole 6-pack od sodapop and stay away from caffinated sodapops. I know I said a lot to make people upset or mad but do you want to be thin or gain weight by drinking whole milk anf get that growth hormone inside of you to gain weight and get cancer and go into puberty at a early age. thank you for me to tell this very inportant news to everyone and start switching from whole milk to 1% and 2% milk. Jill Patterson

Heather November 30, 2010, 11:19 AM

I have to say I’m on the fence about this one. I can understand the desire to choose the gender. I have a cousin with 5 boys, this last pregnancy they were expecting another boy, and actually had a girl. Everyone had to check and double check just to believe it. Not that she did or didn’t want whatever gender she had. Both genders have their pros and cons (as does everything in life), personally, I’m not for planning out the genders of children from the get go, but could understand it for the couple/person looking for that last addition and feel their chances are slim. I think this topic is like so many others; I think it is up to those in the position to decide what is right for them and not the general public deciding whether or not it is right.

ss November 30, 2010, 11:24 AM

What that first response has to do with sperm washing I do not know.

These techniques are not fool proof and I feel so badly for kids who find out the only reason they exist is because their parents were hoping for someone else.

I cringe every time I hear a parent say, “Well, we were hoping for a little girl but we got Billy - but we love him anyway!” as if that makes it ok that they’re saying in front of their son that they wish he was someone else. Comments like that generally mean, “We really wish you weren’t born, Billy, but since you were and we’re stuck with you we’ll love you anyway.”

I guess if parents can keep this stuff a secret to protect the feelings of the child they DO get then I feel better about it.

Mom November 30, 2010, 12:30 PM

I don’t have a problem with it unless people start to prefer one sex to another by a very large margin. Then the US would begin to resemble China.

ginger November 30, 2010, 12:44 PM

Some men are only capable of producing children of one sex or the other. Not all men can make boys AND girls. No amount of spinning and washing will ever change that.

ginger November 30, 2010, 12:44 PM

Some men are only capable of producing children of one sex or the other. Not all men can make boys AND girls. No amount of spinning and washing will ever change that.

KS November 30, 2010, 1:44 PM

They do this in Spain too so it’s not just in the United States. There is also a procedure called PGD where you create embryos then once the cells have divided one cell is taken and genetically tested to check for gender and genetic abnormalities. That procedure is also banned in many countries but legal in the US.

I would not have this procedure done but I don’t have an overwhelming desire to have a girl. We are happy to have had four healthy boys. If I did have an overwhelming urge to nurture a little girl we would probably consider the spinning but not the PGD procedure.

Jane December 1, 2010, 8:03 PM

I have been struggling with this question for some time. I have two precious boys and I want a third child. I would love to have a little girl, but want a third child even if it is another boy. But I do REALLY want a daughter. My mother is my best friend and I cannot imagine my life without a daughter…

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