image courtesy of

A few weeks ago I blogged about a Melbourne woman, who wanted a girl so desperately, she was willing to travel to Thailand to undergo a sex selection IVF procedure.

My good friend Lachy and I were playing hypotheticals in the comments section of that post.

Simply, Lachy has reservations of legalizing gender selection using IVF and I was for it.

An article on today’s website shows that laboratory techniques can affect the gender of the baby.

The article states, “Patients undergoing intracytoplasmic sperm insemination (ICSI), where one sperm is selected and injected into an egg, are significantly more likely to have girls, while freshly created embryos, as opposed to those frozen and thawed, are more likely to be male.”

“Michael Chapman, the director of IVF Australia and an author of the study, agreed, saying that only 3.5 per cent of babies were born using assisted reproduction and any gender changes would not have a huge social impact.”

So should this be a concern? Will IVF numbers ever increase to a point where gender imbalance will affect our society?

What today’s article shows is that there is still so much to learn when it comes to the science of IVF and social impact it can and already has had.

IVF procedures and success rates have enjoyed a steady increase since the first Australian ‘test tube’ baby was born in 1980.

So where to from here?

One can only assume that procedures will continue to improve and success rates will improve. But are we going to become a nation of IVF babies? I doubt it.

Over recent years the argument that women should have babies earlier in life so they don’t rely on IVF have been ringing loudly in our ears with great effect. Australia has enjoyed a mini baby boom.

So the next question is, will Australia’s baby boom continue or will we resort back to having babies later in life, less of them and rely more heavily on medical science to see us through?


  • At 2010.10.01 16:51, Enzo said:

    It’s an interesting argument, but is the gender swing through IVF really that considerable?

    • At 2010.10.06 23:32, Lachy said:

      My guess is that the mini baby boom is contingent upon the mining (economic) boom and the baby bonus, and that the long term trend will be towards older parents and medically assisted conception.

      If this swings the gender balance I think it is less dangerous (in species survival terms at least) for us to have more girls. Within reason, more males don’t really increase our reproductive capacity, and many traditionally male traits (aggression, physical dominance) are losing importance as we become more developed.

      It’s an interesting though experiment how we’d deal with an imbalance on either side though – almost as interesting as how we’d delude ourselves into thinking it was all for the best 😉

      • At 2011.07.13 17:25, Sam-O said:

        I know it’s a late comment but I was following your comment on Crap Mama back to your old posts.

        I have 2 ICSI boys. Basically the likelihood of ICSI embryos being girls is negated by growing them to blastocyst before freezing or transfer because this increases the odds of having a boy! I doubt that it has any impact on the gender balance.

        The single child policy in China would have had a much greater effect.

      (Required, will not be published)