How to Have a Girl or Boy: Does Sex Selection Work?
Many couples trying to conceive hope to influence whether they conceive a boy or a girl. But out of all the gender swaying theories and methods, do any of them truly work? Can you dramatically increase your odds either way? Let’s objectively consider what the science says.
First, a quick biology recap. A child’s sex is determined at conception by chromosomes contained in the sperm and egg.
- Eggs always contain an X chromosome.
- Sperm carry an X or a Y chromosome.
- An XX pairing results in a girl. An XY pairing results in a boy.
Which sperm fertilizes the egg is essentially a 50/50 random occurrence. Yet some natural factors slightly favor one gender’s chances over the other.
Common Sex Selection Methods
Those hoping to conceive a specific sex often try methods like:
- Timing conception based on ovulation – Earlier or later in cycle may favor one sex.
- Positions – Shallow vs deep penetration theoretically helps one gender.
- Diet – More calories/sodium favors boys. More magnesium and calcium may help girls.
- Supplements and vitamins – Herbs said to adjust pH for one sex.
- At-home douches – Douches and lubricants aim to make conditions for X or Y sperm more favorable.
- High tech – Sperm sorting clinics like Microsort claim up to 92% success rates.
But just how well do any of these methods genuinely work? Let’s evaluate.
Assessing the Evidence
Here’s what reputable scientific analysis indicates about popular sex selection approaches:
- No strong proof that timing conception relative to ovulation favors either sex. One big meta-analysis showed no difference in sex ratio from ovulation timing.
- Sex position claims are unfounded and lack evidence. No eminent studies back these theories.
- Dietary intake has minor impacts. You’d need very drastic nutrition changes to significantly shift the pH balance enough to favor one sex. Small tweaks in vitamins or minerals don’t move the needle much.
- No supplements have been scientifically proven to substantially sway gender odds, though some show faint possibilities.
- At-home douches likely don’t work and come with infection risks if not sterile. Many sold kits are scams.
- Professionally sorting sperm does appreciably increase likelihood of having a girl or boy. But the technology is expensive, with many restrictions and only accessible at specialized fertility clinics. For most couples, it’s unrealistic.
The takeaway is that, aside from medically sorting sperm, no methods drastically increase the probability of conceiving your preferred sex. The natural difference at best is maybe 55/45 odds rather than 50/50.
Before attempting sex selection, reflect carefully on your motivations from an ethical lens. Consider:
- Family balancing vs strong gender preference – Most experts reserve sex selection for “family balancing”, like selecting a girl after 3 boys. But choosing for pure gender preference raises ethical issues around sexism.
- Eliminating genetic disease – Selecting girls to prevent passing on X-linked diseases can seem more justified when medically advised.
- Reconsidering children – If you’d abandon efforts after getting the “wrong” gender, you may need to reflect more on your reasons for children.
- Pressure – Make sure intense pressure from others isn’t driving your choices against your own wishes.
- Unintended consequences – Selecting one sex may lead to unintended emotional consequences later on.
Talk with your partner, faith leader, doctor and social worker to make sure you’ve fully contemplated all angles.
Focus on a Healthy Baby
Much is out of your control when it comes to conception. For a joyful pregnancy and family, let go of rigid gender expectations. Follow healthy preconception habits and welcome whatever child you’re blessed with, boy or girl!