How to Have a Baby Boy (What’s real & what’s not)

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So you want to have a boy.

Like, really, really, really want to have a boy!

I don’t blame you. As a dad especially, there’s something really cool about the idea of having a son, a buddy, a dude-pal.

(I have a daughter and she is my world. But there’s always next time!)

The big question people seem to want to ask is how to have a boy, if it’s even possible to control, and what kinds of things you can try in order to conceive a baby boy.

There is a LOT of myth, urban legend, bad science, and misinformation around this topic.

So I’ve read pretty much everything that exists on the subject and have tried to distill it down for you.

The short answer is that it’s highly unlikely, outside of using expensive technology, that you’ll be able to influence the gender of your baby.

But there’s a lot more to discuss and there are plenty of harmless things you can try.

Scroll down to find out:

  • What actually determines if you have a boy or a girl
  • The odds of having a boy if you do nothing
  • Natural methods to conceive a boy (and if they work)
  • Technology that can help you have a boy (and how much it costs)
  • How to know if you’re pregnant with a boy
  • Pros and cons of trying for a boy

 


What determines if you get pregnant with a boy or a girl? Are there really “boy” and “girl” sperm?

Sort of, yes!

In reality, this process is pretty simple.

You see, when two people love each other…

(Kidding!)

There are two main ingredients to making a baby:

  • The egg
  • The sperm

Each of them will carry one of the key sex chromosomes, the X or the Y.

And the egg always carries an X.

That means that some sperm will carry an X and others will carry a Y.

The sex of the baby really depends on which sperm wins the race to the egg and successfully fertilizes it, and which sex chromosome it carries.

(XX will be a girl. XY will be a boy. Sometimes there are extra chromosomes involved but that’s a different topic.)

There may be other factors involved in which sperm wins the race, including:

  • Wealth
  • Diet
  • Age
  • Family history
  • Living location
  • How much sex you have

But it’s really hard for researchers to isolate each of these things to determine which of them lead to boys more often than girls

And most of these will be at least somewhat out of your control.


What are the chances of having a baby boy (if you don’t do anything special)?

So if you were to just roll the dice, not do anything special, and see what happens…

What would happen?

In all practicality, the odds of having a boy are around 50% every time you get pregnant.

However, from a scientific standpoint that’s not necessarily true.

According to a massive research study out of Harvard and others, about 51% of babies born are boys.

The reason for this comes down to mortality of fetuses during pregnancy.

  • In the first week of pregnancy and the last trimester, more male embryos are lost
  • Throughout the rest of the pregnancy, female embryos are more likely to die off

It’s a morbid topic, for sure, but ultimately it seems like more female embryos are lost throughout pregnancy overall than male embryos.

For that reason, a very, very small majority of babies actually born are boys.

That said, simply rolling the dice and trying for a natural pregnancy might be your actual best bet for having a boy!

The odds are slightly in your favor if that’s what you really want.


Natural methods of conceiving a boy (and if they actually work)

Lots of people claim to have the secret, or at least something that will increase your chances, to having a baby boy.

Typically, these methods fall into two categories, and neither is well-backed by modern science:

Outdated science: Back in the 1960s, it was thought that sperm that carried the Y chromosome (male sperm) were quicker and faster, but less durable.

This led to lots of different theories about how to use this information to your advantage in getting pregnant with a boy, but ultimately more modern science has shown that X sperm and Y sperm aren’t really all that distinct.

Anecdote: The thing about supposed methods to have a baby boy is that, regardless of whether they’re based on any actual truth, they’ll work about 50% of the time! So there are lots of people, for example, who try the “sex close to ovulation” method and end up having a boy.

But it doesn’t mean the method is sound.

Ultimately, if these methods involve:

  • Sexual timing
  • Trying certain positions
  • Ensuring the woman orgasms during sex
  • Etc.

There’s not a whole lot of harm in trying them.

(Though getting too clever with the timing of your sex while trying to get pregnant could decrease your chances of getting pregnant, in general. But we’ll get to that later.)

So let’s take a look at some popular natural methods of having a boy, what they’re based on, and whether they’re safe to try:


The Shettles Method

This method is based on the (since outdated) idea that sperm with the Y chromosome are faster and more agile swimmers, though they hold up worse over time and are less durable.

The idea is to have sex within 24 hours prior to peak ovulation, to about 12 hours past.

The logic? In this scenario, the sperm don’t have to survive outside of the egg as long and it becomes a simple footrace.

(Or sperm race?)

And based on the science at the time, the Y-carrying sperm should win more often than not based on their speed advantage.

Another factor that goes into Shettles is deep penetration:

In order to give the sperm a head start and avoid the fragile Y-sperm from having to survive harsh conditions for too long, the ideal scenario is for the man to ejaculate as deep and close to the cervix as possible.

(Standing or doggy style are often cited as good positions to try for this.)

Is it supported by science: No, not anymore. Modern research doesn’t find much of a difference between X and Y carrying sperm, and there hasn’t been a good link between sexual position and baby-gender, either.

Should you try it: There’s not really any harm in having sex at certain times and in certain ways to improve your chances of having a boy.

However (and I’ll circle back on this below), if you choose not to have sex during big chunks of the woman’s ovulation window in order to lower your chances of having a girl, you could have a harder time getting pregnant at all.

If you do want to give this a try, you might want to pick up an at-home ovulation kit (Amazon link) to help determine your window for having sex right before or right after ovulation.


Billings Method

This one is also about timing sex around the woman’s cycle and ovulation, but it works a bit differently than the Shettles Method.

In fact, the Billings Method is primarily a system to help couples avoid or ensure pregnancy based on timing sex properly at the woman’s most fertile, or infertile, cycle phases.

But, as a bit of a side bonus, there is some evidence that it can be used to pre-determine sex if the timing is done right.

In the Billings Method, the couple or the woman will identify her “peak day” of ovulation based on the thickness and consistency of …

… and bare with me, here.

… her cervical mucus.

On the day it’s the wettest, most slippery, and closest consistency and texture to egg-whites, that’s the peak.

If following this technique, have sex on or after the peak for the best chance at having a boy.

(At least, that’s the idea.)

Is it supported by science: Sort of? On the Billings Method’s own website, a study published in the African Journal of Reproductive Health is cited in which 94.9% of participants were successfully able to pre-select sex using this technique. However, there is significant criticism and doubt in the scientific community about the technique as a whole.

Should you try it: Again, like the Shettles Method above, there’s not a whole lot of harm in trying some unique sex-timing principles in order to sway the odds in your favor of having a boy.

However, once again, remember that choosing to not have sex during certain periods of ovulation and fertility could hurt your chances of getting pregnant at all.

(Which, even for two healthy adults who are regularly trying, is not a given.)


The Akaline Diet for Conceiving a Boy

Closely related to the (now outdated) idea that male-chromosome carrying sperm are:

  • Faster and better swimmers
  • But more fragile

Comes the idea of eating a diet high in alkaline foods for a better chance of having a boy.

The logic? If a highly-acidic environment is more damaging to sperm and especially the Y-carriers, then a more alkaline environment inside the woman’s body should help the male sperm survive.

And if the Y-carriers survive, they’ll likely outrace the X-carriers to the egg.

At least, that’s the idea.

This method requires women to eat a diet high in alkaline foods like:

  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • And vegetables

While also avoiding more acidic food groups like meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and alcohol.

Is it supported by science: Not really. The entire premise of the high-alkaline diet for conceiving a boy is not backed by current scientific literature. Again, newer studies don’t show a distinction in swimming speed or lifespan in X and Y-carrying sperm.

Should you try it: Probably not. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables sounds like a good thing, but don’t screw with your diet too much when planning to get pregnant and definitely not when you ARE pregnant.

I would 100% ask a doctor before you make any major changes to the way that you eat, especially if you’re expecting, or hope to be.


Other Dietary Changes to Have a Boy

There are lots of other supposed tweaks you can make to your diet to support having a baby boy, including:

  • Eating more sodium and potassium
  • Eating less calcium

The one dietary method worth mentioning here is the idea that a high-calorie, energy dense breakfast (like cereal) increases your chances of having a boy.

This one is actually backed by some research out of the University of Exeter and made headlines across the globe in the early 2000s.

However, take this study with a grain of salt, as the UK’s own National Health Service calls its findings into question, namely noting that:

  • The diets of the women studied weren’t observed, but merely recalled by memory and self-reported in the year after birth
  • Lots of other data was collected and it’s possible that multiple factors played into the results

Is it supported by science: Most of these dietary methods are anecdotal, but chances are they originated somewhere out of some obscure study. The big one is the UK “cereal study” out of the University of Exeter, and while the findings are interesting, others have called the results into question.

Should you try it: Again, don’t make drastic changes to your diet without consulting your doctor, especially if pregnant or planning to become pregnant.


The Female Orgasm Method

You’ve heard this one:

  • If the woman orgasms during sex, she’s more likely to become pregnant with a boy
  • If she doesn’t, she’s more likely to have a girl

This method is based on the supposed fragility of the male or Y-carrying sperm, and a female orgasm is supposed to make the vaginal environment more hospitable for those speedier swimmers.

We now know that this isn’t really the case, and even if Y-carriers were faster and more prone to dying off, the body’s internal pH balance is heavily moderated and can’t be shifted that easily.

Is it supported by science: Not modern science, no. Back when people believed that an acidic vaginal environment killed Y-carrying sperm, maybe, but we now know that’s not the case.

Should you try it: I mean… what harm can possibly come from both members of a couple orgasming together?


Douching Before Sex for a Boy

Another offshoot of the pH balance idea.

In this method, the woman douches or cleanses her vagina before sex to make the environment more alkaline and more hospitable for Y-carrying sperm.

I’ll just skip right to the punchline here:

Is it supported by science: No.

Should you try it: No. In fact, most women shouldn’t douche at all.


Can technology and science help you have a boy?

Yes.

Maybe.

If you:

  • have a lot of money to pour into this
  • are willing to undergo a far-from-natural conception process
  • are extraordinarily patient
  • or have a need due to a sex-specific hereditary disease in your family

(If you can’t become pregnant on your own and are already pursuing IVF, you may be able to “add on” some sex selection. We’ll talk about that in a minute.)

There are a couple of different scientific interventions that may be able to increase your chances of having a boy.


Sperm Sorting/Spinning, or the Ericsson Method (Albumin Filtration)

This method, developed by Dr. Ronald Ericsson, is actually based on the outdated idea that Y-sperm swim faster.

But it has an extraordinarily strong base of anecdotal evidence in its corner that it works.

In essence, this is an artificial insemination method where the man’s sperm are sorted into fast and slow swimmers.

The couple can then choose which group to be inseminated with, with the faster ones supposedly leading to a better chance of having a boy.

Is it supported by science: Yes, to a degree. There have been published studies that report the Ericsson Method has somewhere around a 70-75% chance of achieving the desired sex.

Many in the scientific community remain skeptical, however.

How much does it cost: It depends where you have it done, but the average price I’ve found in my research is anywhere from $500-1000 per attempt/insemination.


MicroSort (Flow Cytometric Separation)

This is another, far more experimental method of sorting sperm into X-carriers and Y-carriers.

In MicroSort, doctors apply a flourescent dye to a sample of sperm. X-carrying sperm are known to absorb more of the dye and change color. 

The sperm are then sorted into X and Y-carriers and the couple can choose which group to use for insemination.

(The dye is believed to be non-toxic, but it’s early to know for sure about long-term effects.)

Is it supported by science: Yes. Early returns show a 91% success rate for couples choosing to have a girl and a 76% success rate for couples choosing a boy. But there are only two locations in the United States (Fairfax, VA and Laguna Hills, CA) and is far from widely accepted.

How much does it cost: Are you sitting down? MicroSort to have a boy will probably run you about $3200 per try, with success coming after an average of three tries.

Wow.


Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis & IVF

The most surefire way to have a baby boy is to have a male embryo implanted directly into your uterus.

Essentially, that’s what happens in this extremely high-tech add-on to In-Vitro Fertilization.

In PGD, the sperm is allowed to fertilize the egg outside of the body, in a sterile and safe labratory environment.

Then, once an embryo has been created, doctors can tell which embryos are male and female. 

Parents who are eligible (and are choosing gender for heriditary reasons) can then select which embryos to use.

Is it supported by science: Yes. This one is pretty clear-cut. There’s not a whole lot of guesswork involved, as you’ll only implant an embryo once you know the sex is male.

How much does it cost: This is the most expensive option by a long shot. Expect to pay somewhere from $10-15,000 per IVF cycle.


How to know if you’re pregnant with a boy

This is another area full of TONS of:

  • myths
  • anecdote
  • and just plain weirdness.

But a lot of people feel strongly that when you’re pregnant with a boy, your body shows certain signs.

(Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of science backing them up.)

But some of the legends you might have heard of are:

Less morning sickness with boys: Due to girls having higher hormone levels, the logic is that the increased hormones make moms feel ill more often and that boys are easier in this regard.

Boys give moms full and luscious hair: It’s true that being pregnant can have a big impact on the way your hair grows, like making it grow longer and faster. And then there’s post-partum hair loss, another common problem new moms deal with. But neither of these things is linked specifically to boys.

Boys give you salty, savory cravings: When pregnant, you can find yourself craving some really bizarre foods. With boys, the rumor is you’re more likely to crave things that are salty and savory like pickles, for example. In reality, your cravings are probably based on some specific nutrient your body is lacking.

Boys growing in your belly have a slower heartbeat: The legend has it that if your baby’s heart rate is under 140, it’s a boy. This one has actually been tested and scientists found no connection here. Sorry!

The only way to really know for sure if you’re having a boy is to wait for the ultrasound at around 18-20 weeks of pregnancy.

(In fact, it’s not entirely unheard of for even THOSE to be wrong, too.)

There are some blood and genetic testing kits that you can order and find out the sex of the baby earlier, but according to Healthline.com, they carry a miscarriage risk and are really designed for people who want to test for serious hereditary diseases.


Drawbacks of trying for a boy

So I’ve given you a lot to think about.

There is a LOT of information out there, and though much of it points to the sex of your baby being out of your control, there are a few harmless myths and urban legends you can put to the test, as well.

You can also pursue something like sperm sorting and Intrauterine Insemination if you have the cash and this is really important to you, or you’d really like to have a boy to avoid a hereditary disease that runs in your family.

Assuming you don’t fall into the hereditary disease camp, what are the cons or drawbacks of specifically trying for a boy?

Disappointment

This is a big one.

Doing things like:

  • Trying certain positions for deep penetration
  • Timing sex around the woman’s cycle
  • Eating specific diets

Are unlikely to move the needle when it comes to your chances of getting pregnant with a boy.

But if you somehow convince yourself to get your hopes up, you could wind up really disappointed if it doesn’t work out.

And that sucks for you, but it really sucks for your future daughter who doesn’t deserve that burden.

Missed Opportunities

If you opt to play the timing game with mom’s cycle and when you have sex, you’re probably not helping your chances a ton.

And worse, you could be missing a ton of chances to get her pregnant while she’s fertile.

Even very healthy, young couples who actively try to get pregnant can have trouble. And it can take a while.

You don’t want to make it more difficult and stressful than it needs to be.

Dangerous Decisions

It’s all fun and games to try doggy style and make sure the woman has an orgasm.

But when you find yourself avoiding staple foods and making drastic changes to your diet and lifestyle just to maybe increase your chances of having a boy, you’re playing a dangerous game.

Don’t do anything like this without consulting your doctor, OK?


Wrapping Up

In the end, the sex of your baby is probably going to be out of your control.

There are some limited, outdated, and controversial studies that indicate you MIGHT increase your chances if you time sex properly, or eat a big cereal breakfast.

But in the end, the odds are going to be pretty close to 50/50 unless you require and can afford some kind of scientific intervention.

If you want to casually try a few of the most harmless things like different sexual positions, ovulation timing methods, or just having a bunch of orgasms (go nuts!), you sure can.

Just be sure not to do anything dangerous or make drastic lifestyle changes to increase your chances. Likely, you’ll only end up hurting yourself or your future baby.

If you want to know more, I’d urge you to consult your doctor.

And if you’re a candidate for medical intervention due to some serious hereditary diseases in your family that are more prone to one gender or the other, your doctor should be able to point you toward the appropriate next step.

I hope this helps!

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