Amid all the talks of gender equality, women empowerment, girl education and other welfare programs for women in India, the charm of a son is still intense. It is based on the belief that a son is required to light your pyre in order to go to heaven or a son will look after you in your old age and so on.
It is estimated that 60% of women in India, with their first child as a girl, intake sex selection drugs. SSD (sex selection drugs) have been around for a while in the grey market. For centuries people have been taking supplements based on placebo effect and goodwill. And after the Pc& PNDT act in India wherein sex determination has become a crime, people are flocking in even higher numbers to these so called Babas to give them the magic potion to be able to conceive the male child. Though these are not a specified drug class, but are extremely popular in the peripheries, prescribed by any sort of practitioners guaranteeing a male child (essentially).
We now know that the sex of an unborn baby is decided at the time of fertilisation which happens two weeks before a missed period. The sex of the baby is decided by whether an X chromosome or the Y chromosome from the father’s sperms meets the mother’s egg. So logically there is anyway a 50% chance of the baby being a male or female. Any supplements or drugs taken after fertilisation has happened do not have the potential to alter the sex of the baby.
SSD’s could be hormonal supplements like testosterone and its derivatives or plant extracts called phytoestrogens. If the fetus is genetically a male testosterone supplements may not do any visible harm. But if the fetus is genetically a female then these hormones can distort the external genitalia and organs making it look like a boy’s organs. Some of these drugs have dubious chemical composition and may cause miscarriage, congenital malformations or mental retardation and still births in the affected baby.
Most of the time, the couple has to pay a heavy price in the longing of a male child! Some elemental supplements that have been thought to increase the chances to conceive a baby of a particular sex, may harm the mother like excess potassium can cause heart issues if the mother’s kidneys are already compromised.
Most of the times, the couple has to pay a heavy price in the longing of a male child! Some elemental supplements that have been thought to increase the chances to conceive a baby of a particular sex, may harm the mother like excess potassium can cause heart issues if the mother’s kidneys are already compromised. Some women would restrict their salt intake too much and can suffer from low blood pressure and fainting attacks.
Medically there is no proven benefits of taking these SSD’s as the sex selection of the unborn baby happens as a random event and efforts to alter the nature’s forces can bring trouble to the unborn baby and the mother.
It is very essential for a healthy country, to rise above these superficial and superstitious beliefs and head towards a better tomorrow by being aware and spreading the word.
The writer is a Delhi-based Obstetrician-Gynecologist who works at Apollo Cradle Hospital and runs Srishti: The Gynae Clinic