Choosing The Sex of Your Baby

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So you’ve got two boys and you’re hoping your third attempt will be a girl. Or you have two girls and want a boy. Or you have a hereditary, gender-related disease (like Muscular Dystrophy or Hemophilia)? Or maybe you just have a preference. Whatever your reasons for wanting to choose the sex of your baby, you aren’t alone.

The many books, articles, calendars and services available indicate that there are lots of parents and potential parents who would like to influence the sex of their babies. So what can you do to improve your odds? Are any of the many advertised methods really that effective? The upside is that claims of around 80% effectiveness are being cited for some of the non-invasive methods, and anecdotal (but not scientific) evidence confirms this. The downside is that the well known methods often conflict with one another and you have to take a punt as to which method you use.

There are plenty of things you can try to improve your odds though, some of which are fairly invasive and expensive (and worth using only if you are desperate or have a genetic problem which passes through a particular sex) and others worth a try even if you only have a mild preference since they can’t hurt. This article presents a summary of the different methods, along with web sites and contact numbers for further information, and a spreadsheet for use in fertility tracking. If you are one of the many people who would like to have some input into whether they have a boy or girl, read on.

The Basics of Reproduction

Generally Semen contains approximately 50% female and 50% male sperm cells. The sex of a child is determined by the specific sperm cell fertilizing the egg at the time of conception. Sperm carrying an X chromosome result in a female and those carrying a Y chromosome result in a male. Most of the non-invasive methods described below involve making the conception environment more attractive for one or the other type of sperm. There are also methods which use past pregnancies to predict future pregnancies (including date and place of conception), food combining and the medically accepted laboratory methods which involve separating the sperm, staining them with a dye and then excluding the sperm which don’t match the sex you want. A more up to date method available in Australia involves using IVF to differentiate the embryos.


The most well known method for influencing gender without the use of medical procedures is the Shettles method, described in Landrum, Shettles and Rorvik’s book How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby: The Method Best Supported by Scientific Evidence. The method is based on the premise that men produce two types of sperm, the X (female) and Y (male). Since the Y sperms are smaller and more delicate but faster than X sperms which are bigger, tougher and slower, the system is based on providing an environment which allows one or the other type of sperm to get to the egg first.

There are 6 basic recommendations:


Timing? The most critical aspect of the Shettles method is to time intercourse. The closer to ovulation you get, the better your chances of having a boy, because ovulation provides the most optimal time for conceiving and male sperm are faster. If you have intercourse about 3 days prior to ovulation you maximize the chances for the slower but tougher female sperm, who are able to survive until the egg appears.


The pH of the womens’ tract is also important. A more alkaline environment is generally favourable to fertility and therefore favors the quicker but more delicate male sperm. For a girl, a douche of very diluted water and vinegar is done just before intercourse (too strong and it will irritate you as well as destroy the female sperm along with the male sperm). For a boy, a douche of very diluted water and baking soda just before intercourse is indicated.


The closer to the entrance of the vagina, the more acidic a woman’s tract is, therefore intercourse with shallow  penetration favors a girl and intercourse with deeper penetration favors a boy.


Orgasms in females produces a hormone which makes their vaginal tracts more alkaline and therefore more  favorable for boys.


A high sperm count favors boys. To increase sperm count, Shettles recommends that you abstain from intercourse for 3-4 days before ovulation or the day before. Also men should wear boxers rather than tight knickers. To reduce the sperm count, men should take a hot bath just before intercourse and couples should have as much intercourse as possible until 3 days before ovulation.


Drinking a cup of coffee just prior to intercourse tends to favor a boy. Note that IVF experts in Australia and overseas state that there is little evidence that these methods work. In 1984, the World Health Organization published a study that failed to confirm a gender predominance in relation to the timing of conception. A 1992 New Zealand study also failed to confirm the Shettles method.

However, a 1993 study out of Nigeria examining gender pre-selection using the Billing’s method supports the efficacy of timed intercourse for gender pre-selection.

Dr Jonas Method

The Dr.Eugen Jonas Method was developed in 1956 by a Hungarian doctor using empirical methods (observation). According to this method, under certain circumstances the bio-chemical environment of the endometrium is subject to certain periodic variations and that these in turn lead to sedimentation of the sperm. The method relies on there being some days in woman’s fertility cycle where she can conceive a boy only and days where only a girl can be conceived, based on things like the birth place of earlier children, mother’s birth date and time and other variables. The claim is for 97.8% reliability (in most cases)and the cost is A$250, which gets you a custom made chart of highly fertile days for conceiving the sex of your choice for 1 year. A money back offer is made for gender selection.


The Selnas Birth Calender is based on Dr. Schoun’s theories about the complexities of working out the precise timing necessary for having the right sex. This appears to be similar to Dr Jonas method and provides a 12 month calender which shows you which your egg will attract either the ” X” or the ” Y” sperm. Cost is A$650, and results are  “guaranteed” or your money back.

for more information. Note that the Sydney IVF Centre states that this, along with all other non-medical methods are not scientifically proven.

Food The old wives tale is that you eat salty, savory foods for a boy and calcium rich foods for a girl. There is a company called Adnetworld, which promises (but doesn’t guarantee) an 80% chance of success from eating the right food. According to them, the ratio of the minerals Sodium, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium are important to having your eggs fertilized by the sperm bearing the appropriate gender characteristics. The diet identifies those foods to provide the correct mineral balance. Cost is $US24.00 and for that you get sample menus and diet sheets. Visit Selnas USA for more information.

Charting Ovulation

If you decide to use one of the non-invasive methods, the key to skewing the odds in favor of a boy or girl is knowing when you ovulate. To do this you need to be able to determine the state of your cervical mucus, using a BBT thermometer with an ovulation kit.

The cervical mucus method is easy, and requires no special equipment. You just use your fingers or toilet paper and have a look at the discharge which your body produces. On days when you are not fertile the mucus is either light or sticky and opaque. As you get closer to ovulation, discharge increases and becomes clear and slippery, with the consistency of raw egg white (due to an increase in estrogen levels). To be sure, you keep a daily record of them.

After a few months, a pattern will become clear and you will have a good idea of when you are ovulating and can time intercourse according to the method and gender you want.

To guess at when you’re going to ovulate, you work out when your next period is due to begin and count back 12 to 16 days. This will give you a range of days when you will probably be ovulating (for women with a 28-day cycle, the 14th day is often the one).

Important: Nothing is foolproof

No method is foolproof, and most of these methods rely on variables which are not always that easy to control and which are not medically endorsed or scientifically validated. Note as well that this article provides only a very basic outline for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice. Most people would agree with this, but it bears restating that whatever sex you are trying for, you should be prepared to have either and to love and cherish either a boy or a girl. After all, every child is a miracle, and being able to raise a healthy child of either sex is a privilege and one which all parents should be grateful for. That said, it is still fun to try and if you do have a houseful of boys (as I do) or a houseful of girls, the thought of having one of the other sex may be a compelling one. Good luck!

by Magadalena Ball