In the past, you had to wait until your 4th or 5th month before an ultrasound could (possibly) determine your baby's sex. But now, gender prediction kits for home use have been popping up that claim to allow expectant parents to test the sex of their baby as early as 10 weeks. There are even gender prediction kits to use before conception.
Why Gender Prediction Kits?
Just wanting to know is one reason for a gender prediction kit, but some reasons for wanting to know the sex of your baby are more serious. "There are reasons, both psychological and medical, to want to know the gender of the fetus," says reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Mary Hinckley of the Reproductive Science Center of the San Francisco Bay Area. One reason is it may help predict the incidence of gender-linked disease.
"There are certain diseases that are only passed from the mom to a son," says Dr. Hinckley. "There are also certain diseases that are more likely in a specific gender. Often, I see patients who may have a son with autism, who worry that if they have another son, it may increase the risk of autism. Or I see a family where many women get breast cancer, and they hope for a son to lessen the chance he may be affected." Although the fetus already is the gender it is, the knowledge may help parents be better prepared for the future, adds Dr. Hinckley.
Gender Testing Kits
The most common option for testing at home is a simple urine test. The Intelligender kit, for example, claims an 82 percent "real world" accuracy rate with their kit, which can be used beginning at six weeks after first missed period. Kits are available at most drugstores, and a color change indicates whether you're having a boy or a girl.
"I used the Intelligender at-home prediction kit," says Gena Morris, a mother of four daughters from Utah. "It was accurate three out of three times. I would definitely use it again."
For others, the results were less satisfying. "It was supposed to turn out one color for a boy and one color for a girl," says Updegraff. "Mine turned out some color in the middle of the two. I paid the money for the kit for absolutely no answer."
The company that makes the kits acknowledges the possibility of inaccurate results on their Web site and discourages test users from making "any financial, emotional, or family planning decisions based on the test results."
Preconception Gender Kits
Other kits, such as one called GenSelect, claim to "influence" the gender of your child preconception through a program of supplements, ovulation predictors, intercourse timing, and douches, for example. Purchased for one to three monthly cycles (since it may take more than one month to conceive), these are more expensive than the post-conception testing kits, but claim a 96 percent success rate in choosing the sex of your baby.
Gender Prediction Kit Concerns
While finding out the gender of your child, or attempting to influence the gender before conception, may seem like fun and games, Dr. Marcy Darnovsky, associate executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society in Oakland, California, has many concerns, primarily that the results of these predictions, if not what the parent is hoping for, may lead to sex-selection abortions.
Then there are the emotional issues. "What if an over-the-counter test told you at 10 weeks that your fetus is a girl, just as you were desperately hoping, but you find out at 20 weeks that it was a boy?" asks Dr. Darnovsky. "How would you feel for the rest of your pregnancy?"
Dr. Hinckley agrees this may be a concern and cautions against the idea of "trying again" to get the preferred gender. "It is imperative to consider the accuracy of the test," says Dr. Hinckley. "What if parents aborted a fetus because it was a girl, only to find out the test was wrong, and it was the boy they had always dreamed of? And what if the abortion then caused uterine scarring that prevented her from conceiving again?"
With all the facts at hand, only you can decide whether a gender prediction kit, post- or preconception, is for you. "When it all comes down to it, gender is a nice thing to know for planning purposes or health reasons for some, but gender doesn't take away from the miracle of life!" says Worsdell.