Choose the Sex of Your Baby (and Other Myths)
My husband and I have now conceived four girls in a row (including one of our miscarriages). In doing so, we are in a small minority (5.5%, according to one statistical survey) of families who are capable of such a feat. So what gives?
My husband's theory, after reading an article regarding increased caloric intake and the conception of boys, was that my meager breakfast choices played a role. According to the study, women who ate at least one bowl of breakfast cereal daily were 87% more likely to have boys than women who ate no more than one bowl per week.
Could my predilection for toast be causing our girl streak?
The answer, for now, is probably not. The study was refuted in a paper published just last week, which faulted the original study for lacking multiple testing. Basically, the banana-touting results may have happened simply by chance. Until scientists can eliminate the possibility of a statistical anomaly in the original study's results, there is no reason to change your breakfast regimen to select your future baby's gender.
So why else might we have been blessed with bolts of pink fabric and estrogen galore?
There are plenty of old wives' tales about conceiving girls that hold no scientific water. These include advice to eat lots of chocolate and fish, have sex on even days of the month (and especially on a full moon), and consult the Chinese Gender Chart.
"At home" sex selection
Probably the king of the "at home" sex selection is Landrum B. Shettles, who advises the use of the Shettles Method in his book, How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby. His recommendations are based on findings (factors influencing sex ratios) published in 1970 in the International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics.
Using his advice, a couple trying to conceive a girl would (in addition to using his recommended sexual positions) have regular sex in the days between the woman's period, stopping three days before ovulation.
The theory behind Shettles' recommended timing is that the X-bearing "girl sperm" may be slower, but they last longer inside a woman's body. The Y-bearing "boy sperm" are thought to be faster but quicker to perish. Therefore, if a woman makes sure that only older sperm are available to her egg, then perhaps she can tip the scales in favor of a girl.
Like the cereal study, Shettles' findings have been refuted several times. Read an excellent summary of the articles that contradict the science behind the Shettles Method at Fertility Friend.
I must admit, though, that Shettles' "sex before ovulation" guideline does match up well with our gender result.
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We used the OV-Watch to conceive our last two girls, which measures the chloride ion levels in a woman's skin in order to predict the days she is due to ovulate. This gives couples several days more warning than LH-sensing ovulation testing kits, so we began trying to conceive four or five days prior to ovulation each time. Therefore, we may have stocked up on Shettles-style "older" girl sperm each month, which might explain our winning streak.
My doctor rolled his eyes when I asked what might explain our success with girls. It's the luck of the draw, it seems. There is no "low-tech" sex selection theory currently recommended by the OB-GYN community.
But this lack of scientific evidence doesn't stop women from dreaming about conceiving a child of a certain gender, or from buying books or theorizing with each other. I've had friends heartily recommend the "boy-friendly" sexual positions as they cradled their newborn boys. It's just what women do.
For now, while I continue to suffer the dregs of my hyperemesis gravidarum and sciatica makes me hobble like a woman twice my age, I don't think another pregnancy is in the cards for us. I don't think my nerves can take the miscarriage suspense and the Down syndrome testing, let alone the dramas of trying to conceive in the first place.
So we'll never know what we did so right to deserve these little girls, or whether we were even capable of conceiving a boy. But one thing that every family agrees on: Regardless of their gender, somehow we all end up with the right children for our familiesÂ—no matter how many bananas we eat.