Couples already have around a fifty percent chance of conceiving a baby of their desired sex. While there will always be those who have used particular sex selection techniques and swear they have been successful, it is impossible to know for sure whether a certain technique has ‘succeeded’ or ‘failed’ or whether nature has just taken its course.
There are vast arrays of information in books and on websites that offer ways to increase the chances of conceiving a baby of a desired sex. But many methods are not supported by research or are based entirely on anecdotal evidence.
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Here are a few popular methods and techniques you could try at home:
The popular Shettles method is based solely on the assumption that ‘boy’ sperm are faster but more fragile than ‘girl’ sperm, which are thought to be more resilient and have more ‘staying power’.
In Shettles method it is all about when you have sex, as opposed to how. It is the timing of sexual intercourse during the woman’s fertile phase that is the most crucial element for achieving the conception of a baby of the desired sex.
To conceive a boy this method advises timing sex to be as close to ovulation as possible, and abstaining from sex for several days prior. To conceive a girl, the method recommends timing sex for the two to four days before ovulation and then abstaining from one to two days before ovulation until a few days after ovulation.
This requires tracking and recording the menstrual cycle on a fertility chart using physical signs (temperature, mucous and cervix changes) to estimate the time of ovulation.
After sex, women should try and stay in bed for at least 20 to 30 minutes after intercourse. Some women will place a pillow under their hips, to raise them slightly, aimed at encouraging the sperm to enter the uterus.
The Shettles method claims an 80 percent success rate for boys and a 75 percent success rate for girls. However, only a few small studies have been able to support these claims.
Elizabeth Whelan published her book on pre-conceptual sex selection in 1977. She based her theory on the biochemical changes that occur earlier in a woman’s fertile phase, saying that this is the time that would most favor ‘boy’ sperm.
Her method is virtually the opposite of the Shettles method, advising sexual intercourse about four to six days before ovulation for a boy and two to three days before ovulation for a girl.
The idea that changing a woman’s diet for several weeks before she conceives (to influence whether she has a boy or girl), originated from German studies in the 1940’s looking at the environment that influenced the reproduction of worms.
In 1980 a research study was published aimed at testing this theory on determining the sex of babies in humans. It was thought that through diet, the mineral imbalance in the woman’s body could facilitate sex selection. The ionic balance was thought to affect the chemical make-up of her egg and/or her vaginal secretions.
The study recruited 281 couples, allocating them into either the ‘boy’ group, which involved a daily diet high in salt and potassium, or the ‘girl’ group, which comprised of a daily diet high in calcium and magnesium. The women stayed on their diets for at least four to six weeks before they conceived, for a maximum of six months – or until they conceived. The men were also asked to go on the diet, primarily to support the woman, rather than for the purpose of sex selection.
Surprisingly, 80 percent of women who stuck to the diet conceived the child of their choice. Proponents of this method often recommend being on the diet for about three months before trying to conceive and it can be combined with the Shettles method.
It is important to consider that diets may be harmful to your health as they may not be balanced enough to provide much needed vitamins and minerals for a healthy conception and pregnancy and, of course, following a diet does not come with a guarantee.
Douching involves using a special backing soda liquid solution to gently ‘wash out’ the inside of the vagina. The liquid is put into a special plastic bag with a tube attached and the end of the tube placed shallowly just inside the vagina. Gravity is then used to let the fluid slowly flow into the vagina, and slowly flow out again.
The results were staggering. Many of the women become pregnant and, surprisingly, most of the babies were boys. This became the basis of the theory that ‘boy’ sperm prefer a more alkaline environment, but these study results have not been supported since.
While douching is a relatively easy method that can be used at home, there is no proof it works for sex selection. It is also messy and may disturb the normal pH balance of the vagina, leading to infections such as thrush.
Do not get your hopes up. There are thousands of methods that are said to promise you the gender you want, but to be totally honest there is no for sure method to conceive the gender you want.