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Health & Pregnancy

Deciding Baby's Sex

Can diet, timing, and changing body chemistry really determine the sex of your baby?
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Low-Tech Methods of Sex Selection

Methods to up the odds of conceiving a boy or a girl are plentiful. If you search the web for "gender selection" you'll get multiple hits to articles, a book called How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby, and several commercial web sites selling gender-preference kits. Many of these approaches suggest one or more of the following techniques:

  • Timing intercourse closer to ovulation for a boy, further away for a girl. The reasoning is that the "girl" sperm (with X chromosomes) are hardier and the "boy" sperm (Y chromosomes) are more fragile, so having intercourse as close as possible to ovulation will give those Y chromosomes that determine maleness a fighting chance of meeting the egg.
  • Making the vaginal environment more hospitable to "girl" or "boy" sperm. Some say this can be done by douching with water and vinegar to make the environment more acidic and girl-friendly and by douching with water and baking soda to make the environment more alkaline and boy-friendly.
  • Adopting various positions during intercourse. For instance, the missionary position is recommended for producing girls; rear-entry for boys.

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."

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