Preconception sex selection demand and preferences in the United States

Edgar Dahl, Ruchi S. Gupta, Manfred Beutel, Yve Stoebel-Richter, Burkhard Brosig, Hans Rudolf Tinneberg, Tarun Jain*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Objective: Preconception sex selection for nonmedical reasons raises important moral, legal, and social issues. The main concern is based upon the assumption that a widely available service for sex selection will lead to a socially disruptive imbalance of the sexes. For a severe sex ratio distortion to occur, however, at least two conditions have to be met. First, there must be a significant preference for children of a particular sex, and second, there must be a considerable interest in employing sex selection technology. Our objective was to ascertain such demand and preferences among the United States general population. Design: Cross-sectional web-based survey. Setting: United States general population. Patient(s): One thousand one hundred ninety-seven men and women aged 18 to 45 years. Intervention(s): None. Main Outcome Measure(s): Web-based questionnaire assessing preferences for sex of children and demand for preconception sex selection for nonmedical reasons. Result(s): Eight percent of respondents would use preconception sex selection technology, 74% were opposed, and 18% were undecided. If the sex selection process was simplified to taking a pill, 18% would be willing to use such a medication, 59% were opposed, and 22% were undecided. In terms of gender choices, 39% of respondents would like their first child to be a son, 19% would like their first child to be a daughter, and 42% had no preference. Overall, 50% wished to have a family with an equal number of boys and girls, 7% with more boys than girls, 6% with more girls than boys, 5% with only boys, 4% with only girls, and 27% had no preference. Conclusion(s): Preconception sex selection technology via sperm separation is unlikely to be used by the majority of the United States population and is unlikely to have a significant impact on the natural sex ratio.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-473
Number of pages6
JournalFertility and Sterility
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Ethics
  • Gender preferences
  • Health policy
  • Law
  • MicroSort
  • Sex ratio
  • Sex selection
  • Social survey
  • Sperm sorting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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