Published on September 21st, 2020
These days, gender reveal parties are the new baby shower. The question is, will you be crossing your fingers for a slice of pink cake? Or blue? If you’re holding out hope for a little boy (or a little girl), you might be looking for ways to tip the scales one way or the other as you try to conceive a healthy baby.
This process of trying for a baby boy or baby girl during conception is called gender swaying.
For generations, moms and dads have tested a variety of different techniques to increase the odds for their preferred sex. These days, methods range from eating certain foods to sorting through reproductive cells. This guide will cover the following methods (none involve writing a letter to the stork):
- IVF with PGD
- Shettles Method
- Whelan Method
- Gender Swaying Diets
- The Boxers vs Briefs Method
Gender Swaying Techniques
Methods of gender swaying range from low-tech to cutting-edge. Whether you’re hoping for a girl or wishing for a boy, these methods are the most common ways parents try to tip the scales and conceive a specific gender.
IVF with PGD
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, has been used to help couples struggling with fertility since the 70s. While it’s not a common path to sway gender selection, for those considering IVF, PGD can tip the scales in favor of one specific gender over the other. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis—or PGD—is a kind of screening process. IVF professionals use this testing method to reduce the risk of certain genetic diseases from being passed on to the baby. It can also be used to increase the chances of conceiving a boy or a girl.
Once a mom’s eggs have been harvested and a dad’s sperm has been collected, here’s how it works:
- The IVF specialist fertilizes the eggs—yup, multiple eggs—using the dad’s sperm. Sometimes, the eggs are placed in a culture dish with the sperm. From there, the sperm find their way to the egg and fertilize it the (slightly augmented) old fashioned way. Other times, the specialist will inject a single sperm cell into each egg. The goal is to have several fertilized eggs that can become embryos.
- From there, the fertilized eggs are kept in a lab as they grow into the earliest stages of the embryo. How early? These fertilized eggs grow to be no more than 150 cells big.
- Once the embryos have developed enough, the embryobiologist—a biologist who specializes in embryos—takes a tiny sample from each egg. Those samples are placed in a test tube and checked for genetic markers of inherited disease as well as male or female DNA. Those results are provided to the mother’s doctor.
- The parents can decide which embryos to implant in the womb based on their genetic markers.
However, just like IVF itself, IVF with PGD isn’t a guarantee of your baby’s gender, let alone a guarantee of pregnancy. While the chances of winding up with a particular gender are increased, it’s not a 100% guaranteed method. This method is also pretty expensive (and the procedures a bit invasive), so if you’re considering IVF with PGD, talk to your doctor and discuss your options.
Dr. Landrum Shettles thought that the secret to encouraging a particular gender at conception was in the dad’s contribution to the baby-making process—the male sperm.
Dr. Shettles’ method starts with the way in which gender is determined at conception. Each parent’s reproductive cells come encoded with that parent’s DNA. That genetic information is called chromosomes. The chromosomes that determine a child’s gender are called sex chromosomes, and they come in two forms, an X chromosome or a Y chromosome. Women have two X chromosomes, while men have an X and a Y chromosome.
Each parent contributes one half of an embryo’s total chromosomes to make the beginnings of a whole little person.
Mom contributes an X chromosome through her egg, because women only have X chromosomes. Because men have X and Y, sperm can carry either an X or a Y to the egg. If the egg is fertilized with an X-carrying sperm, the baby will be a girl. If the egg is fertilized by a Y-carrying sperm, the baby will be a boy.
Shettles believed that the X and Y-sperm had different characteristics, and that each thrived in a different kind of pH—the measurement of acidity.
According to the Shettles theory, Y-carrying sperm prefer alkaline environments, meaning environments that weren’t so acidic. X-carrying sperm survived better in acidic environments. So swaying for a girl or a boy boiled down to creating the perfect pH level and environment for your preferred sperm.
Here’s a quick summary of how to sway for a girl or a boy according to the Shettles Method:
- When trying for a girl with the Shettles Method – Shettles offered various advice to help create a more acidic environment within a woman’s vagina, including:
- Having sexual intercourse right after a woman’s menstrual cycle ends to ensure the ejaculate is deposited before ovulation, which Shettles believed made the womb more alkaline.
- Trying positions that allow for more shallow penetration—Shettles thought certain areas of the vagina were more acidic and therefore more welcoming to X-carrying sperm.
- Having the woman orgasm after ejaculation. Shettles theorized that a woman’s natural post-orgasm secretions would change the pH of her vagina to become more acidic.
- When trying for a boy with the Shettles Method – Y-carrying sperm, according to Shettles, didn’t thrive in acidic environments. He advised potential parents to create a more alkaline environment by:
- Having intercourse as close to ovulation as possible. That means on the very day of ovulation and up to three days after it begins while avoiding intercourse around the time of menstruation all together.
- Trying positions that allowed for deeper penetration so the ejaculate could be deposited nearer to alkaline areas like the cervix and the uterus.
- Letting the mom-to-be orgasm first to increase the acidity of the environment.
While Shettles himself claimed a 75% accuracy for his method, other studies have rebuked and disproven many of his foundational assumptions—namely, that sperm that carry X or Y chromosomes are different from each other. However, some parents swear by this technique, so it’s truly up to you and your partner.
For more information on the Shettles method, science, and theories, check out our in-depth blog on the Shettles Method.
Elizabeth Whelan is the name behind the well-known Whelan Method. A public health researcher in the late 70s, Whelan suggested that gender swaying could be possible—so long as couples timed their intercourse well. Whelan theorized that the subtle and intricate biochemical changes in a woman’s body helped (or hindered) X- or Y-carrying sperm’s journey to the egg.
- Gender swaying for a girl with the Whelan Method – To increase chances of having a bright-eyed baby girl, Whelan recommended parents have sexual intercourse 2-3 days prior to ovulation.
- Gender swaying for a boy with the Whelan Method – If you’re hoping for a bouncing baby boy, Whelan would recommend having intercourse 4-5 days before ovulation. Because sperm can thrive and remain viable in the woman’s body for around 5 days, Whelan theorized that more male sperm would survive the waiting period between ejaculation and ovulation.
Notice anything? That’s right—Whelan’s advice is the opposite of the Shettles Method. Does that mean her method is better or more accurate than Shettles’? Not so much. Third-party researchers haven’t been able to verify either method as sound or accurate based on inconsistent results as shown by taking a gender prediction test.
Gender Swaying Diets
Food fuels our bodies, but can it determine the gender of a baby? According to some, it can! There are multiple ways parents have tried to influence a baby’s sex with their daily meals, including:
- Calorie-Fat Gender Swaying Diet – This method comes from a research team that studied sex ratio change during war and famine. The theory is that during famine and war—when times are difficult and food may be scarce—women are more likely to conceive girls. But when food is plenty, women tend to conceive more boys.
According to this theory, eating a low-calorie diet increases the chance of a girl. While eating a diet high in calories increases the chance of a boy.
But according to several teams of researchers and scientists, this theory has no conclusive scientific standing.
- pH Gender Swaying Diet – Much like the vagina, food has pH. By eating highly acidic foods, this method asserts you can increase the chance for a girl. If you want to conceive a boy, this method advises you to eat foods with a low acidity.
Changing pH to affect your chances of a boy or a girl… why does that sound familiar? Ah, that’s right—it’s because this is an iteration of the Shettles Method. Just a reminder, this method has not been backed up by third-party scientific studies.
- Mineral Gender Swaying Diet – The mineral diet specifically aims to help couples conceive a little girl through diet and intercourse timing. The diet requires moms-to-be to eat foods that are low in sodium—that includes even forgoing adding salt to a dish—and high in calcium and magnesium.
As for timing conception, the method recommends having intercourse as close to ovulation as possible, including in the days right before and right after ovulation.
Interestingly enough, one study showed that this method had an 81% rate of success. But what had started out as a 150-woman study led to 118 of those women dropping out. Out of the remaining 32 participants, 25 gave birth to a girl.
The Boxers vs Briefs Gender Swaying Theory
What does your partner’s underwear choice have to do with his sperm’s chromosomes? Some say a lot.
Certain lab studies have found that X-carrying sperm cells—the ones that can create a little girl—can withstand slightly higher temperatures than Y-carrying sperm.
So, based on this observation, if you want to have a girl, ask the Dad-to-be to wear briefs. Why? Because briefs keep the testicles—the man’s sperm factories—close to the body, raising the temperature for the X-carrying sperm to thrive. Meanwhile, boxers allow for more airflow and cooler temperatures for Y-carrying sperm.
However, experts advise couples not to take this advice too far with exposing a man’s testicles to extreme heat. High temperatures may risk lowering a man’s overall sperm count—that includes Y and X-carrying sperm.
Learn Your Baby’s Gender Early with SneakPeek Early Gender DNA Test
Whatever method you try, you’re probably counting down the days until you can find out if your efforts worked. And with the SneakPeek Early Gender DNA Test, you can learn the gender of your baby as early as 8 weeks. All it takes is a simple at-home gender blood test, and just a little more patience as the results are analyzed and sent right back to you within a few days.
Stop waiting and wondering—find out today if your methods worked with SneakPeek.
VeryWell Health Family. Choosing the Sex of Your Baby: Facts and Myths. https://www.verywellfamily.com/choosing-the-sex-of-your-baby-facts-and-myths-4163803
US National Library of Medicine. A History of Developments to Improve in vitro Fertilization. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6140213/
National Health Services. Eat less for a girl, more for a boy? https://www.nhs.uk/news/pregnancy-and-child/eat-less-for-a-girl-more-for-a-boy/
National Library of Medicine. Female gender pre-selection by maternal diet in combination with timing of sexual intercourse–a prospective study. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21051285/
The Embryo Project Encyclopedia at Arizona State University. The Whelan Method of Sex Selection. https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/whelan-method-sex-selection#:~:text=Keywords%3A%20Whelan%20Method%2C%20insemination%20timing,desired%20sex%20through%20timing%20intercourse.
Mayo Clinic. How long do sperm live after ejaculation? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/expert-answers/pregnancy/faq-20058504#:~:text=Ejaculated%20sperm%20remain%20viable%20for,decades%20when%20semen%20is%20frozen.
The Embryo Project. The Shettles Method of Sex Selection. https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/shettles-method-sex-selection