The process of collecting donor oocytes—the same as that experienced by women undergoing oocyte collection for IVF—is quite invasive. For this reason, egg donors may be paid upwards of $10,000 for each cycle of donation (the national average is about $4,000, but figures 10 times this amount have been reported in the media; Rabin, 2007). Once again, the most in-demand profiles are white, Ivy League–educated, athletic individuals. The success rate of ART implantations is quite low, but there are a wide variety of factors that make it difficult to predict how effective they will be for any particular couple. These include the age of the donor eggs, whether the mother has other fertility problems, the quality of sperm, and the specifics of the IVF or other ARTs (there are many types of equipment, protocols, and skill levels of doctors and fertility technicians). It is not uncommon for some people to have success on a first attempt at IVF, but it is also not uncommon for people to have multiple attempts at ARTs and spend more than $100,000 before either achieving success or concluding that ARTs will not work for them.
Another common use of reproductive technologies is in selecting the sex of one’s offspring. This is mostly utilized by people who live in countries with a strong cultural preference for one sex (typically male offspring) or by people who have already had offspring of one sex and desire a child of the other sex. This may be done after fertilization with perfect accuracy with the use of PGD, but more commonly and less expensively it is done before fertilization by manipulating semen (which may then be inseminated, so the difficulty of IVF can be avoided). Because all egg cells contain an X chromosome, sperm cells determine the sex of the fetus, as they carry either an X or a Y chromosome. The Y chromosome is shorter and slightly lighter, so semen can be spun in a high-speed centrifuge, and lighter material will separate somewhat from heavier material. This is not a perfect method, but it increases the chances of producing a child with the desired sex. Other more expensive techniques (though still cheaper and less invasive than PGD) that exist for selecting sperm cells carrying an X or Y chromosome involve chemical processing of sperm. Natural methods, such as the Shettles Method, involve timing of intercourse relative to ovulation, as natural hormonal levels have a slight effect, disfavoring male sperm closest to ovulation; however, careful research suggests that the increase or decrease in having a child of the desired sex would at most be a few percent, even with successful timing of intercourse to ovulation, which is far less than the efficacy claimed by the Shettles Method (Gray, 1991).
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As the GP has already outlined to the couple, the IVF process with hormone treatment is associated with behaviours such as weight gain, cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption....