When my husband and I were trying to get pregnant, he really wanted a boy. Girls frightened him. A girl meant short skirts and makeup and eager teenage boys picking her up for dates while he looked on in horror. I just wanted a baby. So, when my research on tracking ovulation, taking my temperature, and examining my “mucus” (yuck!) led me to information suggesting that having sex on the exact day that you’re ovulating (as opposed to a few days before you ovulate) is more likely to produce a boy, I figured, why not? That month, we abstained from sex until the exact day I was sure I was ovulating and, lo and behold, nine months later I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy.
But did I choose the sex of our baby?
Or was it merely a coincidence? There was a 50/50 shot we would get it right after all. Is it possible to influence the gender using age-old theories, or is it all just a bunch of old wives’ tales?
Well, it depends on who you ask. Forty years ago, Landrum Shettles, MD, PhD, came out with the ground-breaking method —now aptly known as the Shettles Method —outlined in his book How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby. And thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of couples have sworn by his techniques, which include everything from timing of intercourse to what to eat prior to conception. “The Shettles Method is by far the most known and oft used low-tech method of influencing gender,” says Samuel Wood, MD, PhD, medical director of the San-Diego based Reproductive Sciences Center. “But there are an equal number of studies confirming and denying that it actually works.”
The bottom line? “There are all kinds of theories out there, and they’re fun to try,” he says. “Just make sure the technique you’re using doesn’t actually reduce your chance of getting pregnant.” In other words, the following tips don’t offer guaranteed results, but could potentially help you get the son or daughter you’ve been longing for.
Timing of intercourse
BOY: 24 hours before ovulation
GIRL: Two to four days before ovulation
The theory behind it: Female sperm are slower than male sperm, says Wood. Male sperm are also shorter-lived than female sperm. Therefore, if you have sex right before you ovulate, the quicker male sperm are likely to get to the released egg before the females. If you have sex a few days prior to ovulation, it’s thought that fewer male sperm will be around, leaving you with a better chance of getting a female.
The pH balance
BOY: Use a diluted baking soda douche 30 minutes prior to intercourse
GIRL: Use a diluted vinegar douche 30 minutes prior to intercourse
The theory behind it: Vinegar makes the vagina more acidic, creating a more hostile environment for male sperm. For male sperm to thrive, you want to increase the pH with a baking soda solution, says Wood.
The theory behind it: With doggy-style, there’s deeper penetration, meaning sperm are deposited closer to the cervix, giving the faster and shorter-lived males a greater chance of making it to the egg first, explains Wood. The minimal penetration from missionary gives the girls a better chance to outswim the boys.
BOY: Increase your caloric intake around the time of ovulation
GIRL: Decrease your caloric intake during ovulation
The theory behind it: A 2008 study out of Great Britain found that women who consumed more calories during ovulation were slightly (about 56 percent) more likely to have a boy.