One of the most common questions couples trying for a baby and parents who just found a pregnancy face is, “And what do you want it to be, a boy or a girl?”
Even if many people don’t have an answer to it and wish for a perfectly healthy baby, you are probably here because you’re dreaming of having a beautiful baby boy. You must know that’s not only normal but also understandable, and between us, most people do have a preference.
In this article, we’re going to tell you a little about how the definition of the baby’s sex happens, talk about methods, and give you a few tips that may increase a little the chance of having a boy the natural way.
What Determines the Baby Sex
Know the Gametes
The first thing that is important to know is what and when the sex of your baby is defined, so you can understand our tips, but also look for more ways to make it happen, so pay attention to the explanation below!
As you may already know, but the embryo is formed by the union of two gametes with only one cell, the female gamete, mostly known as the egg, and the male gamete, known as sperm.
Each of those gametes has 23 chromosomes, and when combined with the sperm, the fertilized egg will have the 46 chromosomes humans have, but only one of those 23 chromosomes will specify the sex the baby will have.
Women’s eggs only have the X chromosome, while male sperm can have both Y or X chromosomes. To the fertilized egg become a little boy, we need one of each chromosome!
So boys will have a pair of XY chromosomes, while girls will have a XX pair. As you can imagine, male and female sperm aren’t equal, but there’s no difference like speed or “swim style” as thought and described by famous scientists as Shettles, Ericsson, and others.
When This Happens
The decision of the baby’s sex will normally happen at the beginning of all things, the race for the fertilization. So, in other words, the winner takes it all!
The sperm, male (Y), or female (X) that reaches and penetrated the egg first will decide the baby’s sex, and this is mostly decisive, except for some eventual problem that may result in a syndrome where the sex chromosome duplicates or fore some reason doesn’t activate.
Those cases are rare and unlikely to happen to you, so don’t worry! But, can we know what sperm will win or increase the odds for the male sperm?
Who Wins the Race
For a long time, scientists thought there were differences between male and female sperm that made it possible for us to manipulate the sperm’s odds with the desired chromosome to win the race for life. This method of manipulation is known as the Shettles method, and you probably already heard about it.
Unfortunately for us, a paper published in 1998 by Linda Penfold shows no significant difference between male and female sperm when it comes to speed and mobility.
Can the Woman Decide?
A 2014 research by Carmen Almiñana and her team of scientists found that who wins the race may suffer the influence from the women’s oviduct, which can have a preference for male or female sperm, increasing the odds of a boy or a girl.
This study is very recent and still needs more data to prove definitive, but the idea that the female body can choose is amazing, isn’t it?
In other words, it’s still hard to say what exactly makes sperm with Y chromosomes or X chromosomes sperm win the race. Still, at each year, science is getting a little closer to find the answer, so maybe in a couple of years, it will be possible to naturally manipulate the chances of conceiving a boy or a girl.
Is Your Baby What You Eat?
It actually may be. Does it mean that if you eat a lot of sweets, your baby will be a cupcake? Nothing like that! A very interesting study from 2008 named “You Are What Your Mother Eat” shows that the number of certain nutrients, fats, vitamins, and consequently, the PH of your body may have something to do with your baby’s sex.
So If you want a boy, here are a few tips on how to make your diet a little more alkaline and increase the chances of having your boy. But remember, the woman has to start those changes at least one month before the conception, so her body has enough time to process it properly.
Lots of Potassium: This means you’ll have to look for food with high levels of it, such as bananas, white beans, salmon, avocados, almonds, apples, and mushrooms. There are other things you can eat, those are just examples, but remember, it has to be lots of it.
Breakfast Cereal: For some reason, the study also found that women who consumed lots of breakfast cereal also conceived more boys, we’re talking about more than a bowl a day.
Based on that, we can assume that keeping blood glucose levels high once people eat breakfast first thing in the morning also keeps glucose levels high in the bloodstream.
It’s also interesting to notice that some breakfast cereals complement potassium, which we know contributes to conceiving a boy.
Eat many times a day: The last tip we have is that the woman has to keep herself well-fed to keep the glucose levels high. A good thing to do would have many snacks a day of high potassium food, like bananas, apples, and other foods that will keep her healthy and full of good nutrients.
The Shettles Method
This method is one of the most famous and known methods of trying to choose the baby’s sex by the time of conception based on Dr. Landrum B. Shettles’ finding of the differences between male and female sperm.
In his book, Your Baby’s Sex: Now You Can Choose, first published in 1970, he talks about each sperms’ environmental preferences and other details, like speed and resistance os each sperm.
The method suggests a way of manipulating the PH of the vagina to create a most favorable environment for the desired sperm and the best date, female orgasm moment, and position to the conception, all to favor the sperm of your choosing sex.
For example, to conceive a boy according to the Shettles method, the couple would have to:
- Prepare the reproductive tract for conception with an alkaline douche containing two tablespoons of baking soda to one water quart. The solution should be used before the relation and, according to Shettles, is harmless for both mother and baby;
- Restrain from having sex during the month and only doing so as close to ovulation as possible, preferably on the day of ovulation and three days after;
- The woman should have an orgasm before the man, once the substance produces by female orgasm are alkaline and favor the male sperm;
- The position used to conceive a boy should be the ones that have deep penetration, to place the sperms close to the cervix, where it’s naturally more alkaline. One of these positions would be “doggy style,” for example.
The Method’s Problem
As said before, some aspects of the Shettles Method have been contested in other studies, like the shape and speed of the sperms that were contested 1998 and reassured by a 2006 study.
The most controversial point is about the time of conception, the most important factor, according to Shettles. In 1979, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine confirmed the doctor’s theory that having sex close and during ovulation would increase the chance to conceive a boy.
However, in 1991 a study with a smaller group of women published in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology produced opposite results, showing that more girls were born when the couple had intercourse during ovulation.
And denying both results, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1995 said that there was no relation between the time of conception and the baby sex.
Should I Try?
Our simple answer would be, yes, you should! Dr. Shettles’ method is still very popular. The most ethical one is available based on scientific information and is also supported by some ethics members of the scientific community and religious entities for not involving medical procedures.
In the sixth edition of Your Baby’s Sex: Now You Can Choose, launched in 2006, provided data from updated studies that showed a 75% percent success rate for couples that tried for a girl and an 80% percent success rate for couples that tried to conceive a boy.
In other words, we can’t say for sure that the Shettles method works, but what we can say is that if you want a boy, it won’t hurt to try this natural method and see if you succeed in having a baby boy.
The Only Way to Choose the Gender of Your Baby
If you want more than anything in your life to have a boy, you have medical ways to choose the sex of your baby. However, those methods are only found at fertility clinics and tend to be very expensive, not to mention that every medical procedure comes with risks, in this case, to the mother.
So unless you need medical help to get pregnant or for some kind of hereditary health-related question needs to conceive a boy, this can be a little over the top.
The methods available where you can be almost 100% sure you’ll have a little boy are In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), intrafallopian gamete transfer (GIFT), and zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT).
Through a process called preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) or preimplantation genetic selection (PGS), the doctors can use IVF to create embryos and test these embryos for their sex, so you will know for sure if you’ll have a boy or girl.
Usually, the doctors pick the embryo based on the examination of a single cell that is tested for possible genetic disorders before the implantation. Through this exam, doctors can tell if the embryo is a boy or girl – which means the parents can say, “We want a boy,” and simple as that, the magic can be done.
Is it Legal to Choose?
The answer to this question will depend solely on the country you are. In the United States, no law forbids a couple of choices to conceive a boy with PGD or PGS; however, this selection is illegal in many countries such as China and the United Kingdom.
Traveling to another country to make this procedure is always a possibility, and many people for different reasons. For example, like Brazil, some countries won’t let you pick the donor of the semen. But this option comes with many other expenses and can end up being a less appealing option if you’re only looking for conceiving a boy.
The ethical matters regarding choosing the sex of your baby and the reasons the governments say around the world are that they fear with gender selection the population will increase in one gender over the other, which could lead to disproportional growth and future problems.
The only acceptable reason, by the eye of those countries, for this selection, is avoiding genetic problems, such as syndromes that only pass for babies of one specific sex. The other reason accepted would be “family balancing,” which would require that the couple already has a child and wants the other to be from different sex.
Think About It
We know that if you got to this point is because you’re very interested in having a little boy, which is great — but depending on your reasons to want that, it’s important to think and reflect a little more about it.
It’s always hard and sometimes even dangerous in putting a high expectation on something we can’t control, and this expectation can lead to frustration. It is something we don’t want you to feel.
So yes, do what you can to conceive a boy, but don’t let it be something bigger than the fact that you’ll soon become a parent, and being a parent of a beautiful baby. Having a child is the best thing in the world!
- Almiñana, C., Caballero (2014) The battle of the sexes starts in the oviduct: modulation of oviductal transcriptome by X and Y-bearing spermatozoa. https://bmcgenomics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2164-15-293
- Blight, Alysse (2019) “The Shettles Method of Sex Selection.” https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/shettles-method-sex-selection
- Grant, Valerie J. (2006) “Entrenched Misinformation about X and Y Sperm.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1440662/pdf/bmj3320916b.pdf
- Gray, Ronald H. (1991) “Natural Family Planning and Sex Selection: Fact or Fiction?” https://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(11)90558-4/pdf
- Harlap, Susan (1979) “Gender of Infants Conceived on Different Days of the Menstrual Cycle.” https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM197906283002601https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM197906283002601
- Hossain, A.M., Barik, S. & Kulkarni, P.M. (2001) Lack of significant morphological differences between human X and Y spermatozoa and their precursor cells (spermatids) exposed to different prehybridization treatments. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/12140136_Lack_of_Significant_Morphological_Differences_Between_Human_X_and_Y_Spermatozoa_and_Their_Precursor_Cells_Spermatids_Exposed_to_Different_Prehybridization_Treatments
- Martin, R., D. (2018) Sperm Selection: Fertilization Not Random After All? https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-weme-do-it/201809/sperm-selection-fertilization-not-random-after-all
- Mathews, F.; Johnsons, Paul J.; Neil, A. (2008) “You Are What Your Mother Eats” https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2008.0105
- Wilcox, Allen J. “Timing of Intercourse in Relation to Ovulation – Effects on the Probability of Conception, Survival of the Pregnancy, and Sex of the Baby.” http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199512073332301