Jan. 26 issue - For centuries, kings and queens tried myriad ways to increase the odds of giving birth to two boys—an heir and a spare. Even in these high-tech times, couples still use unproven, often wacky methods to try for the boy or girl of their dreams. It's easy to see why couples might fervently believe that a particular folk remedy is effective: they forget that even without messing with Mother Nature, they've got a 50-50 chance of getting their preferred gender. Whatever crazy thing they do, half the time it's going to work. A guide to some old wives' tales.
SEXUAL POSITION: For an X-bearing (girl) sperm to win the race to the egg, folk wisdom counsels that the woman should initiate sex, try the missionary position, achieve orgasm first and then sleep on her partner's left side. For a Y-bearing (boy) sperm to win, the man should enter from the rear, penetrate deeply at climax and achieve orgasm first. Alas, it's difficult to ever document efficacy—or lack of it. "How are you going to prove that he really did ejaculate deep in the vagina?" asks Dr. Sandra Carson, immediate past president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.
DIET: For a girl, Mom should eat veggies, sweets and a high-calcium diet. For a boy, she'll want to try red meat and salty snacks. In "How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby," Dr. Landrum Shettles (who died last year) advises men who want sons to drink caffeinated coffee within a half hour before sex because it "may impart some extra speed to the male-producing sperm." Hmmm. "If you change your diet, nobody has proved that at the site of the egg that changes anything," says Carson. And taking an odd diet to extremes may be risky for pregnant women, who need lots of vitamins and minerals.
TIMING: Shettles recommends sex during ovulation—usually 14 days after a woman begins her period—for a boy, and several days earlier for a girl. (He maintains that female sperm outlive male sperm and swim more slowly.) Alas, a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 1995 concluded that "the timing of sexual intercourse in relation to ovulation has no influence on the sex of the baby."
TEMPERATURE: Men who want boys should "keep it cool," says Shettles, and avoid hot tubs and tight clothes that lower sperm counts because heat kills less hardy male-producing sperm first.
STRING: In 18th-century France, men tied string around their left testicle in hope of producing a boy. Some ancients believed that male and female sperm came from the right and left testicle, respectively.
THE MOON: Intercourse during a full moon supposedly increases the odds of conceiving a girl. A quarter moon is said to do the trick for a boy.
ABSTINENCE: Shettles believes male sperm are smaller and weaker. So, to increase the odds of a boy, he says, couples should avoid intercourse if they're within four days of ovulation to increase sperm count as much as possible and give the boys more of a fighting chance on the big night. For a girl, he advises frequent sex until 48 hours before ovulation.
There's no need to keep this list at your bedside.
© 2004 Newsweek, Inc.
.........had to smile