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What is Sperm Spinning?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Sperm spinning is a process that is designed to separate male and female sperm, allowing parents who are using the assistance of technology to reproduce to select the gender of their baby. Like many techniques used to assist couples who have trouble getting and staying pregnant, this process is not guaranteed to be effective, but it can greatly help to increase the chances of having a baby of the desired gender. Because gender selection is a complicated issue in many societies, sperm spinning is not without controversy, and many parents who choose to use it do not discuss it with people outside the family.

The idea behind this process is fairly simple. Sperm with an X chromosome tends to be heavier than sperm with a Y chromosome, so, in theory, spinning sperm in a centrifuge will separate out the male and female sperm, with the female sperm sinking to the bottom of the centrifuge. Once the process is complete, the sperm of choice can be introduced to an egg to create an embryo that may be implanted in the mother or a surrogate, depending on the family's situation.

In practice, sperm spinning is a bit more complicated, and several processing techniques are available for couples who want to pursue this treatment. The effectiveness is also a topic of debate, with some studies suggesting that it is not terribly effective, with the chance of having a girl or a boy being about equal. Some practitioners have shown that they can use the technique reasonably effectively, however, so it remains popular in the fertility treatment community.

This technique was originally designed for parents who were concerned about the possibility of passing on dangerous sex-linked genetic traits. For example, in a family with a history of hemophilia, having a boy is a cause for concern, as there is a chance he will be a hemophiliac, whereas girls usually only carry the disease. Gender selection can be used to avoid several other sex-linked diseases as well, reducing strain on parents who may be concerned about having unhealthy children.

Sperm spinning is also, of course, used to select children of a desired gender. In some cases, parents request a specific gender to balance an existing family, while in other instances, they simply have a desire for one gender over the other. This practice is frowned upon by some people who believe that children of all genders should be welcome, and the issue of gender selection raises some uncomfortable issues for some communities, especially in Asia, where boys have traditionally been highly valued over girls.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon281558 — On Jul 24, 2012

Yes, Gender is a social construct. The correct term is "sex".

The U.S. would be wise to fill the 20 million woman gap. -Anorny

By anon35731 — On Jul 07, 2009

Great Article, but I am having a lot of trouble finding a place that *actually* does this.

I live in KY, but could drive a little, please help with a list of places

By anon22570 — On Dec 06, 2008

My understanding is that the word "gender" refers to socially constructed traits. "Sex" is the word of choice for physical, biological issues. For example, the fact that men won't ask for directions is probably a gender thing, but then again, if it's hard wired, it would be a sex trait. Anyway, if people are choosing sperm to affect whether they have a boy or girl, I think the word should be "sex" and not "gender."

By anon22563 — On Dec 06, 2008

No wonder women live longer. They have more genetic capital than men. I have long thought that the male is the default model. Otherwise why would men have nipples? Also women have better design-three exits from the body (of course, one of them is designed to to be an adit) whereas have to only two exits (one is mistakenly used as an adit by some).

The wages of biological sin is evolutionary death.

I understand that there is a twenty million shortage of women in China.

A gynecologist friend of mine said, "Men without women become grumpy." That isn't exactly what he said, but it is close enough. There are likely to be lot of grumpy men in China. Donald W. Bales, M.D. retired

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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