You’ve wanted a little girl ever since you were a little girl yourself. Or maybe your husband is keen for a boy to play sports with. Is it possible to choose the gender of your baby? Let’s first understand how gender works.
All women’s eggs carry the X chromosome.
Sperm carries either an X or Y chromosome.
X is for girls, Y for boys. If the Y-bearing sperm penetrates the egg, then the baby is a boy. If the X-bearing sperm penetrate, then the baby is a girl.
It basically comes down to which sperm gets to the egg first, and there are 100 million sperm-cells swimming against each other! 50% carry the boy-gene, and 50% carry the girl-gene. So, your chances are basically 50:50 – just like flipping a coin!
Pink or blue?
There are a ton of old-wives tales about how to get a boy or girl: from taking a hot shower, having sex in certain positions, or eating certain foods. None of these have been proven, and, scientifically speaking, most of them do not make any sense.
What research does tell us, is that the girl-making sperm is large and slow, while the boy-making sperm is light and fast. The girl making-sperm can also live a bit longer than the boy-making sperm.
Because of this, scientists developed a technique called Sperm sorting, or Microsort. The scientists basically sort the sperm to get more boy-sperms or more girl-sperms together. With this technique, your chances increase from 50% to about 70% to 80%.
Sperm sorting is not available in South Africa.
The only way to choose with 100% certainty
The only way to choose your baby’s gender, would be to go for IVF (in vitro fertilisation). In this process, the eggs of a woman is fertilised with the man’s sperm in a laboratory dish. The doctors can check the gender of the different embryos before they re-implant them in the mother.
This process is very expensive! So, if you want to try some techniques at home, here are the ones that science suggest could work in your favour:
Timing is everything. It’s believed that the closer to ovulation you have sex, the greater the chance of having a boy as the Y-sperm is faster and gets to the egg first. If you want a girl, having sex three days or more before ovulation may work in your favour. Dr John Martin Young, an American sex selection expert, recommends women keep a chart of their monthly cycle. “If patients pay attention to the timing of their cycle their chances of conceiving the sex they’d like can be as high as two in three.”
As women age, the theory goes that the chances of conceiving a boy increases. So if you’re in your late 30s trying to get pregnant, it may just be a boy!
In the end, the people who make the best parents, don’t care what gender their child is: they love them with the selflessness, fullness and dignity that every person deserves: man or woman.