Trying to start a family? Would you like a boy, or a girl? Now, new kits claim they can put the decision in your hands, helping you determine the sex of your baby - no doctor's visit needed! Do these at-home gender selection kits work? Are they safe? KLTV 7 news looked into it.
Veronica Moister adores her son. When it came time to plan baby number two, she knew just what she wanted. A little girl. "As a woman, I wanted to be able to relive some of my childhood memories, through a child," says Veronica Moister
Veronica researched all the ways to possibly nudge mother nature and, in the end, put her hopes in a new at-home gender selection kit. "I was skeptical as anyone would be skeptical about anything," said Veronica.
But, that skepticism quickly vanished after she found out she was pregnant with, yes, a girl. Veronica used 'GenSelect.' It's available online for about $200 and claims a 96 percent success rate based on customer reports.
"Thousands of kits have been sold," says Jill Sweazy, with 'GenSelect.' She says the kit comes with tools to create a gender bias including: ovulation predictors, douches and specialized vitamins. Jill goes on to say, "The three factors that GenSelect addresses are intercourse timing, vaginal vault pH, and body chemistry."
But Doctor Joseph Sanfilippo says "I would definitely say buyer beware." Dr. 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," said Dr. Sanfilippo.
The Food and Drug Administration tells us this kit is not approved for gender selection, although some of the individual components are approved for gynecological purposes. Jill Sweazy says "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 one thousand dollars. It uses semen separation and insemination. Institute founder, Doctor Panos Zavos, made headlines with his controversial human cloning experiments. "If we can offer something at home, people will take it more than, rather than going to the doctor's office," says Dr. Zavos.
With this kit, you ship a sperm sample overnight in a styrofoam cooler. The male and female sperm are separated and your sample is mailed back along with instructions on how to inseminate. "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," explains Dr. Zavos.
Embryologist Etta Volk warns that self insemination can cause infection. She also cautions, if sperm is not properly stored and shipped, your odds of getting pregnant drop. She says, "It could lose its motility if it's exposed to extreme temperatures. It could compromise the viability of the sample."
Dr. Zavos dismisses the criticism and reports he's seen an 80-percent success rate for male selection and 72-percent for female. "Anything that we place inside this technology is sound and it works," said Dr. Zavos.
As KLTV 7's Dr. Ed Dominguez points out, this technology has been around for years, but never before in an at-home kit, which raises some concerns. "I think that the physicians, in particular, want to feel comfortable that if people are going to take the time and effort to try to do these home techniques, which are a lot cheaper than going to a doctor's office and having a normal fertility work up which can lead to tens of thousand of dollars, this may be a reasonable approach for some people in the long run, it's just that we don't know that it's safe yet," said Dr. Ed.
For Veronica, while she dreams of having a girl, in the end, she says 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 Microsoft. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine tells us it is awaiting further research before taking a position.