Megan P always wanted a boy and a girl. Her first child was a girl, so when it came time to get pregnant with baby #2, she decided to try to influence the baby’s gender naturally via the Shettles Method. “I thought ‘If there’s anything I can do to conceive a boy, I’ll give it a shot!’” she explains. Within a year, Megan and her husband had their baby boy. “I don’t know whether the tips we tried had any influence on our baby’s gender, but I’m happy with the results!” she adds.
Although there have been no scientific studies to prove that natural gender selection methods actually work, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to support them. In the book How to Choose The Sex of Your Baby — which Megan consulted –– Dr Landrum Shettles, a biologist and early pioneer of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), offers tips on how to conceive a boy. His suggestions are based on the fact that sperm composed of a Y chromosome (male) are faster but more fragile than sperm composed of an X chromosome (female); he also considered how a woman’s vaginal environment affects the two different types of sperm.
Related: 7 best sex positions for conception
If you’re hoping to conceive a boy, like Megan was, there’s no harm in trying a natural gender selection method (or two). Check out these suggestions from Dr Shettles, as well as other experts, for increasing your chances of making a baby boy.
1. Have him wear boxers. Loose underwear helps keep his bits cool, which is a good thing since excessive heat in the scrotal area can inhibit sperm production, says Dr Angeline Beltsos, a board certified ob-gyn and Medical Director of the Fertility Centers of Illinois. Though this rule goes for both X and Y chromosomes, it is especially important for the lighter, more sensitive male sperm. To keep things cool, ask your partner to wear loose boxers and to avoid hot tubs. Urge him to keep his laptop off his lap and his mobile phone in his back pocket.
2. Encourage him to drink coffee. According to Dr Shettles, the advantage of male sperm is that they’re fast — and a cup of coffee or a caffeinated soft drink before sex may make them even faster. Why not give the Y sperm an extra edge as they swim toward the finish line?
3. Change your diet. Boy sperm might swim better in a vaginal environment with a more alkaline pH, so eat more alkaline-friendly foods, like lentils, nuts, and vegetables. (Your vagina is naturally acidic, which is especially tough for sensitive male sperm to handle.) Some research suggests that women trying to conceive boys should consume more calories, as long as they maintain a healthy BMI (since a normal BMI will help boost your fertility, while a high BMI will only hurt it).
4. Take specific vitamins and supplements. Evening Primrose Oil and Omega 3 fatty acids can help the Y chromosome by increasing the production of thinner cervical mucus (the clear, egg-white consistency), which protects the weaker male sperm so they can penetrate through the cervical canal faster than the female sperm, says Dr Randine Lewis, founder of the holistic infertility treatment centre, The Fertile Soul. Cough medicine contains the ingredient guaifenesin, which can also help thin the mucus membranes in the cervix, she adds. A high sperm count is thought to give the male sperm an advantage, so if you are ready to step things up a little further, try the vitamin supplement CoQ10, adds Dr Beltsos. Just remember to consult with your doctor before taking any new supplements.
Related: How to conceive a girl
5. Have sex in positions that allow for deep penetration. Male sperm are fast, but they’re also fragile, so you want to have sex in a position that will allow them to be deposited as close to your cervix as possible, says Dr Shettles. Skip missionary position and try standing sex or doggie-style with rear entry.
6. Have an orgasm when your partner does. Not only do orgasms cause the cervical mucus to become more pliable and alkaline (which male sperm like!), but the female orgasm causes contractions that allow the cervix to yo-yo in and out of the vagina, making it much easier for speedy male sperm to hit the jackpot.
7. Have sex close to ovulation. The main principle of the Shettles Method is timing intercourse correctly. If you have sex precisely when you are ovulating, it allows the faster Y chromosome sperm to get to the egg first (before they die). Having sex too soon (before ovulation) only helps the girls, who are slower but live longer and might already be there when the egg makes itself ready for fertilisation. Dr. Beltsos suggests using an ovulation prediction kit which can help you figure out the optimal time by detecting a rise in the hormones that trigger ovulation.
8. See a specialist. “Without intervention, you have a 50-50 chance of having a boy or a girl,” says Dr Norbert Gleicher, medical director and chief scientist at The Center for Human Reproduction in New York City. If you’ve got your heart set on a boy, the most reliable route is IVF and Pre-implantation genetic Diagnosis (PGD). Via hormonal injections, the ovaries are able to produce more eggs which are then fertilised with sperm. When they become embryos, scientists take cell samples to determine whether the cells are girls or boys. “By transferring only the embryos of the desired gender to the mother’s uterus, we can be close to 100 percent certain that any established pregnancy will be of that desired sex,” he says. This option doesn’t come cheap.
Remember: Having a healthy baby is what really matters (which for some people with genetic issues does mean PGD). But, as long as you are healthy and fertile, you may as well try some of these boy-boosters.
More tips for TTC a healthy baby:
- 31 Things Every Couple Should Do Before Having a Baby
- 9 Surprising Fertility Truths & Myths
- 11 Early Signs of Pregnancy You’ve Probably Never Heard Before