Is there any way to influence a baby's sex?
Answers from Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D.
The short answer is no — there's not much the average couple can do to affect a baby's sex.
While old wives' tales suggest that a woman's diet or sexual position during conception can affect a baby's sex, these theories remain unproved. Likewise, researchers have found that timing sex in relation to ovulation — such as having sex days before ovulation to conceive a boy or closer to ovulation to conceive a girl — doesn't work.
Rarely, couples face the agonizing problem of knowing they could pass a genetic trait to a child of a specific sex — usually a boy. Under those special circumstances couples might use high-tech interventions to influence the chance of conceiving a girl. For example:
- Preimplantation genetic screening. With this technique — which is used in combination with in vitro fertilization — embryos are tested for specific genetic conditions and sex before they're placed in a woman's uterus.
- Sperm sorting. Various sperm-sorting techniques — which require artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization — can be used to reduce the likelihood of passing on a genetic condition, as well as select a child's sex.
These procedures are not recommended for choosing a baby's sex for nonmedical reasons. If you have concerns about passing on a genetic condition to your baby, talk to your health care provider.
May 17, 2018
Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D.
See more Expert Answers
- Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, et al. Optimizing natural fertility. Fertility and Sterility. 2013;100:631.
- Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Use of reproductive technology for sex selection for nonmedical reasons. Fertility & Sterility. 2015;103:1418.
- Jesudasen S, et al. Sex selection: What role for providers? Contraception. 2012;86:597.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists -- Committee on Ethics. Committee Opinion No. 360. Sex selection. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2007;109:475. Reaffirmed 2011.
- Wilcox AJ, et al. Timing of sexual intercourse in relation to ovulation: Effects on the probability of conception, survival of the pregnancy, and sex of the baby. The New England Journal of Medicine. 1995;333:1517.
- Kalfaglou AL, et al. Ethical arguments for and against sperm sorting for non-medical sex selection: A review. Reproductive Biomedicine Online. 2013;26:231.