Can you choose your baby’s gender?

You’ve wanted a little girl ever since you were a little girl yourself. Or maybe your husband is keen for a boy he can take on fishing trips. 

Is it possible to actually choose the gender of your baby? 

Let’s first understand how gender works. 

All women’s eggs carry the X chromosome. 
Sperm carries either an X or Y chromosome. 

X is for girls, Y for boys. 

So, essentially it’s a toss-up on which sperm fights its way forward.  Research shows that the girl-making sperm is large and slow, while the boy-making sperm is light and fast, meaning they're fragile and short-lived. If the Y-bearing sperm penetrates the egg, then the baby is a boy. If the X-bearing sperm penetrate, then the baby is a girl.

Pink or blue?It is technically possible to “choose” your baby’s gender. Medical experts have found a few methods of sperm sorting that might give you a better chance of having a boy or girl. 

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD)
This process starts with taking medication to encourage multiple eggs to develop. The eggs are then collected and fertilised in a lab with sperm. After this part, a single cell is removed from each of the fertilised eggs and sent for genetic analysis to decide if the egg is healthy, and if it’s an X or Y. Once this is known the egg is transferred to the uterus.

Sperm sorting 
With this process the weight of the sperm is assessed to figure out which ones will be best suited to result in an embryo of a particular sex. The ultimate goal here is to select your preferred chromosome and therefore improve your chances of getting a boy or girl baby. 

Ovulation predictor kits 
These tests claim to find the best time to have intercourse to produce a girl or boy. This can help you plan sex closer to ovulation with a greater chance of having a boy. But the kits are pricey and there's little hard research to prove that they work. 

Timing is everything. It’s believed that the closer to ovulation you have sex, the greater the chance of having a boy as the Y-sperm is faster and gets to the egg first. If you want a girl, having sex three days or more before ovulation may work in your favour. Dr John Martin Young, an American sex selection expert, recommends women keep a chart of their monthly cycle. "If patients pay attention to the timing of their cycle their chances of conceiving the sex they'd like can be as high as two in three.”

It's thought that calcium-rich foods like milk and cheese favour a girl, while red meat favours boys, but there’s little evidence to support this notion.

Sperm don’t like heat, so overheating may increase the likelihood of having a girl. It’s been suggested that men who wear tight underwear are more likely to have girls. So, Y-fronts will favour girls, and boxers are more likely to produce boys.

According to Italian folklore, the missionary position is best for a girl as it’s more likely to place sperm away from the opening of the cervix. Shallower penetration means that sperm have further to travel to get to the cervix, passing through acidic secretions. Female sperm are tougher than male sperm, and are more likely to survive.

Orgasms during sex are good if you want a boy. The body produces chemicals after orgasm that make the vaginal environment more alkaline, favouring Y-sperm. To increase the chances of having a boy, women should reach orgasm before their partners. 

As women age, the theory goes that the chances of conceiving a boy increases. So if you’re in your late 30s trying to get pregnant, it may just be a boy! 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Have you entered our Health of the Nation survey?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
34% - 9250 votes
66% - 17780 votes