The journey towards parenthood is often filled with excitement, anticipation, and hope. For some couples trying to get pregnant, the vision of their future family might not just include a baby – but a baby of a specific gender. These hopes of conceiving either a boy or a girl have led many couples to attempt “gender swaying.”
What is Gender Swaying?
Gender swaying refers to the idea that certain actions, behaviors, or conditions can increase the likelihood of conceiving a baby of a desired sex, specifically either a boy or a girl. There are various theories and methods for gender swaying, which can range from altering diet, timing intercourse, utilizing specific sexual positions, and more.
Gender Swaying Techniques
Some commonly discussed techniques for gender swaying include:
1. The Shettles Method
The Shettles Method was developed by Dr. Landrum B. Shettles in the 1960s and has been described in several of his books. This gender swaying method is based on the idea that “male sperm” (which have one Y chromosome and one X chromosome) and “female sperm” (which have two X chromosomes) have different characteristics and, therefore, conception can be influenced to favor one over the other under certain conditions. Some of the main principles of the Shettles Method include:
Timing of Intercourse
If you are trying for a boy, the Shettles Method recommends having intercourse as close to ovulation as possible – ideally, 12 hours before ovulation. Shettles suggests that male sperm are faster but less resilient than female sperm. Having sex very close to ovulation gives the male sperm a better chance to reach the egg first.
If you are trying for a girl, it is recommended to have sex about 2-4 days before ovulation – so the slower-moving and longer-surviving female sperm will be the only ones left to fertilize the egg upon its release.
Positions During Intercourse
When trying for a boy, the Shettles Method recommends utilizing positions that allow for deep penetration so sperm can be deposited closer to the cervix. If you are trying for a girl, positions better suited for more shallow penetration are preferred.
Dr. Landrum B. Shettles believed that the pH levels inside the vagina also played a hand in determining which sperm (either male or female) would be most likely to fertilize an egg. According to the Shettles Method, alkaline (high pH) environments are more favorable to male sperm, whereas acidic (low pH) environments are more favorable to female sperm.
*Always consult with a healthcare professional or fertility expert before making significant lifestyle changes in an attempt to influence the sex of a baby.
It’s important to note that the effectiveness of the Shettles Method is debated among experts. Shettles himself claimed the method has an 80% success rate in his 1970 book, “Your Baby’s Sex: Now You Can Choose.” While some people swear by the method, many studies have cast doubt on its effectiveness.
2. Dietary Changes to Influence Gender
Some mothers swear that a woman’s dietary habits prior to conception will influence their baby’s gender. Some methods of utilizing specific diets to have either a boy or a girl include:
Is Cereal the Secret to Gender Swaying?
According to a 2008 study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences, there is a correlation between women who give birth to boys and whether or not a daily bowl of breakfast cereal was a part of their preconception diet. The study found that the odds of having a boy were 1.87 times higher for women who ate at least one bowl of breakfast cereal every day compared to those who ate less than one bowl per week.
Some experts theorize that this calorically-linked phenomenon is due to evolution and that in times of famine and war when food may be scarce, women are more likely to conceive girls – but when food is plenty, women tend to conceive more boys. This might be due to the potential for males to reproduce with many partners and spread their genes widely when conditions are favorable for survival and growth.
Other experts are skeptical. The above mentioned study is highly controversial and many scientists are skeptical about the influence of diet on a baby’s gender. The study’s findings are based on correlations, which do not necessarily indicate causation.
Focusing on pH
One gender swaying diet that mirrors aspects of the Shettles Method proposes that eating acidic foods (foods with low pH levels) could increase the likelihood of having a girl. Some examples of acidic foods you could incorporate in your diet include:
- Citrus Fruits (Lemons/Limes/Grapefruits)
The theory also states that women who eat less acidic foods (foods with high pH) may be more likely to have a boy. Some examples of low-acidity foods you could incorporate into your diet include:
- Beans and Lentils
While this diet suggestion is intriguing, scientific evidence supporting it is limited. No large-scale, conclusive studies have validated the correlation between dietary pH and gender swaying.
3. IVF with Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)
IVF is a process where eggs are extracted from a woman, fertilized in a laboratory with sperm, and then implanted back into the woman’s uterus. PGD is an added step in the IVF process where embryos are screened for genetic abnormalities and, in this context, also for gender. By examining the chromosomes of each embryo, medical professionals can identify whether the embryo is male (XY) or female (XX).
While the primary purpose of PGD is to prevent serious genetic diseases and disorders, the examination allows prospective parents to choose an embryo of a specific gender to be implanted. This scientifically sound approach to gender swaying offers a high success rate in terms of selecting the gender of the baby, but it is also an invasive and expensive option.
Is Gender Swaying Possible, or Just Wishful Thinking?
Note that just because some scientific studies support the possibility of gender swaying, there’s no guarantee. While two things may be related (correlation), it does not mean that one caused the other (causation).
Consider the study noted above that links eating cereal to the baby’s gender. While a correlation was found between higher consumption of cereal and the birth of boys, this does not explicitly mean that eating more cereal causes a woman to have a boy. Study results can be influenced by many different factors not accounted for in the text or could be coincidental.
While certain gender swaying techniques have scientific merit (IVF with PGD), others are based mainly on anecdotal evidence and cultural beliefs. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement and potential of gender swaying, but couples should remember to approach each method with a healthy amount of skepticism, and try to focus on the overall health of the baby and pregnancy.
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