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Deciding Baby's Sex

Can diet, timing, and changing body chemistry really determine the sex of your baby?

Low-Tech Methods of Sex Selection continued...

But Steven Ory, MD, a reproductive endocrinologist in the Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., area and past president of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, disagrees. "There really is no old-fashioned technique that can influence sex selection," he tells WebMD.

"Nothing is proven," agrees Richard P. Frieder, MD, a staff gynecologist at Santa Monica-UCLA & Orthopaedic Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif.  And finding an association between dietary habits or intercourse timing or other approaches and having more girl or boy babies is different than finding a cause and effect, he points out.

"To propose there really is a cause and effect is really on the fringe," he says of the old-fashioned sex- selection techniques.

His patients who are hoping for one sex over another always ask if there is anything simple they can do to boost the odds of conceiving a child of the preferred sex.  "I tell them it's 50-50. The reality is there is nothing you can do that really matters."

"You have a 50-50 probability of a girl or a boy," Ory says. If a couple is trying interventions such as dietary changes or different positions or intercourse timing, he says, "there is a tendency to attribute what you did to getting results [you wanted]. And people tell their friends. In medicine, we call them anecdotes."

Proponents of Low-Tech Methods

Combining techniques can give better results, says M. Jericho Banks, PhD, a partner and owner of Gen Select, a preconception sex selection method sold online.

By adjusting the body chemistry to be more acidic or more alkaline, he says, couples can boost the chances of conceiving their preferred sex.

For instance, his company advises those who want a girl to avoid salt and eat a lot of protein. "It falls in line with the recent study," he says.

"A lot can help," Banks contends. Making the vaginal environment and body chemistry "more hospitable" to one or the other type of sperm can influence conception, he says.

Hazards of Sex Selection?

The dietary changes seem harmless, according to Frieder. But nutritionists caution women not to skimp on calories or nutrients in the hopes of conceiving a girl, based on the recent study.

But the method that suggests having intercourse before or after ovulation, depending on whether a boy or a girl is preferred, may actually reduce the chances of getting pregnant at all, Frieder says, if couples miscalculate their ovulation.

In general, the overall chance of getting pregnant each month is fairly low, he says. "There is a 20% chance of getting pregnant in one menstrual cycle if the sex is at the perfect ovulation time," Frieder says. If the intercourse occurs earlier or later, the odds of getting pregnant could decline, he says.

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