Sperm Sorting

Last Updated: May 5, 2018

Definition - What does Sperm Sorting mean?

Sperm sorting is a process that allows individuals undergoing artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF) to select the sex of the child. The process is used to lower the risk of passing on hereditary abnormalities or conditions, or in family balancing when a child of a specific sex is preferred.

FertilitySmarts explains Sperm Sorting

Pregnancy occurs when a single sperm fertilizes a woman’s egg. That single sperm carries the genetic traits for either a female or a male baby, either an X-chromosome (female) or a Y-chromosome (male). Semen is typically composed of half X-chromosome sperm and half Y-chromosome sperm. The single sperm that fertilizes the egg determines the sex of the child.

In the process of sperm sorting, the two types of chromosomes are separated, and only the sperm carrying the chromosome of the desired sex (male or female) is introduced to the egg.

The sperm sorting procedure begins with collecting a semen sample, provided through masturbation. The sample is analyzed with a tool called a flow cytometer, which is able to detect the chromosomes present in each cell. The desired sperm is then selected and divided into groups.

There are several reasons to complete the sperm sorting procedure. The most common and widely cited reason is the avoidance of passing on genetic disorders. As certain hereditary diseases are more common in a certain sex, a parent who knowingly carries or has a family history of this type of illness may opt for sperm sorting to reduce the odds of passing it down.

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