Conceiving a Baby Boy Separating Myths from Facts

The sure-fire way to determine a baby’s gender is through artificial insemination, where gender selection can be performed. There is controversy about whether this is ethical and many couples will not have access to this technique. It should be noted that nature already tips the balance in favour of the male offspring. 51% of babies are male and 49% female. This is thought to be due to the greater survival rate for females over males and so an adult balance is maintained. So, if you want a baby boy without recourse to technological aids, how can you maximise your success?

According to the old rhyme, little girls are made of sugar and spice and all things nice while little boys are made of snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails. In reality, female babies contain two X chromosomes and male babies one X and one Y. The mother’s egg will always contain an X chromosome while the father’s sperm will contain either an X or a Y chromosome. And so it is the father’s input that will determine the gender of the offspring. It follows then that if you are trying to choose the sex of your baby, what you need to do is give the Y chromosome carrying sperm the advantage over the X chromosome carrying sperm. And there is a difference between the X and Y sperm. The Y sperm are faster and more aggressive than the X sperm but they tend to have a shorter life span. Exploiting this difference may help to increase the chances of determining the gender of the baby at conception. You should be clear though that any advantage is small and there are certainly no guarantees.

A number of educated people have suggested ways to increase your chance of conceiving a baby boy. Probably the most widely known is the method suggested by Dr Shettles. He suggests that the timing of intercourse should be close to ovulation. This will allow the faster more vigorous Y sperm to reach the egg and fertilise it before the X sperm arrive. Because the Y sperm die more quickly, it is also suggested that intercourse does not take place for up to 5 days or so before ovulation to prevent X sperm waiting around for the egg to arrive. He also recommends that the father deeply penetrates during intercourse, again to give the Y sperm the best start in the fertilisation process. Dr Whelan also agrees that it is the timing of intercourse that helps determine the gender of a baby. However, she differs from Dr Shettle in suggesting that babies conceived early in the menstrual cycle are most likely to be male. Her research suggests that the likelihood of male offspring rises from 51% to 68% at this time.

Another type of method that some people believe will influence gender is to use diet and dietary supplements. There is a range of different advice here. To help conceive boys it is suggested that mothers take evening primrose oil, potassium supplements or gualifenesin tablets. These are meant to influence the environment so that males are more likely to be conceived. Mothers should seek proper medical advice about any supplements or changes to diet in case of side effects. It has also been suggested that fathers change their diets to increase the virility of their Y sperm if a boy is desired. Commonly this will mean eating lots of red meat, seafood, salt, fizzy drinks and drinking lots of coffee. Over a short period this is unlikely to cause harm but there is no evidence that it makes any difference either.

Other myths that are said to increase the chance of having a boy are even less likely to be effective. These include:
* only have intercourse on odd numbered days of the month;
* consult an astrology chart;
* make love with both parents’ heads facing north;
* have the father cool his testicles with ice for two weeks before love making (rub with an ice cube for a few minutes twice a day);
* only make love at night when there is a quarter moon;
and these last two were surely invented by men:
* have lots of sex since it is believed more boys are conceived in the early part of a relationship when couples have sex more regularly;
* focus on the man’s pleasure during intercourse as the myth states that if the man climaxes first you will have a boy.