One of the problems that bother many couples nowadays is to find a method for giving birth to a baby of a desired gender (for example, many couples ask themselves “how to conceive a boy naturally?”). The preference for a child of a certain sex may have personal, social, cultural or even medical reasons – such as protecting the child from inheriting a congenital sex-linked illness, like muscular dystrophy or hemophilia (which can be transmitted only to boys, if the mother carries the gene for this disease).
The sex of a future baby can be influenced only before conception (or postconception, but preimplantation) – by using preconception (or preimplantation) gender selection methods. All the gender selection methods fall into two main categories, described below.
NATURAL Tips on Conceiving a Boy
On one hand, there are the simple (“low-tech”) – and, at the same time, “at-home”, natural and free – methods for controlling the sex of a baby, among which the best known are: the timing methods, the diet methods and the Chinese Pregnancy Calendar Method.
The timing techniques aim to influence the sex of the future baby by scheduling the sexual intercourse at certain times, depending on the ovulation (the egg release). The best known timing strategy (which is also the best known natural preconception sex selection method in the world) is the Shettles Method (discovered in the 1960s by Dr. Landrum B. Shettles). This method offers three essential tips for conceiving a boy naturally (tips that refer not only to the timing of the intercourse, but also to sexual position and the woman orgasm): have intercourse on the day the ovulation occurs or as close as possible (and avoid intercourse until two days before ovulation), use deep penetration and the woman must have orgasm.
Diet Method of Drs. Stolkowski and Lorrain
All the diet strategies for conceiving a baby of a chosen sex are derived from the dietary method discovered by Drs. Stolkowski and Lorrain, which states that, when trying to conceive a boy naturally, the women should eat foods rich in sodium and potassium, and poor in calcium and magnesium (so the women must eat salted foods and avoid dairy products).
Chinese Gender Calendar Method
The Chinese Gender Calendar strategy (for conceiving an offspring of a desired gender) is based on a mistical calendar from antiquity and it states that a child’s sex is determined by his mother’s age (at the moment of conception) and the month in which that child is conceived. So, the couples wondering “how to conceive a baby boy?” must determine – using the “chinese birth chart” and the woman’s age – the month in which a boy can be conceived by that woman.
Pros and Cons for Conceiving a Boy Naturally
These strategies have the following three advantages. First of all, they are all free – you don’t have to pay for using them. The second benefit lies in their simplicity, because, in order to use these techniques, you don’t need any special equipment (that’s why they are also known as “low-tech” methods) or special assistance – you can practice them in your own bedroom (that’s the reason why these techniques are sometimes referred to as “at-home” methods). The third advantage of the natural ways to conceive a boy (or, in general, a baby of a desired sex) is that they don’t have any negative side-effects
If followed correctly, the natural methods have, in general, only one relatively small disadvantage: they are not clinically proven (although it seems that the success rate of both Dr. Shettles method and diet techniques is around 70 %, while the success rate of the Chinese Gender Calendar strategy is unknown) and, therefore, these simple strategies are not recommended by the scientists.
However, the diet method (to conceive a boy, for example) has two important drawbacks: it is contraindicated for persons suffering from certain common illnesses (cardiac diseases, high blood pressure, kidney problems, high levels of potassium in the blood, diabetes, etc.) and, because it is completely unbalanced, it might cause nutritional deficiencies and other ailments, which is totally contraindicated for a pregnant woman.
ARTIFICIAL Ways to Conceive a Boy
On the other hand, there are the more sophisticated (“high-tech”) – and, at the same time, artificial, embarrassing, clinically proven and very expensive – gender selection methods; the three main techniques from this category are: MicroSort (with IUI or IVF), PGD (with IVF) and the Ericsson Method.
MicroSort (with IUI or IVF) Method
MicroSort is a sperm sorting – and prefertilization – technique for gender selection, which separates the sample semen (sperm) into two (almost completely separated) subpopulations: the Y-enriched sperm population (i.e. one that contains mostly “male sperm” – also known as “boy sperm” or “Y sperm”, because it carries an Y chromosome, which is necessary for the conception of a boy) and the X-enriched sperm population (i.e. one that contains mostly “female sperm” – also known as “girl sperm” or “X sperm”, because it carries an X chromosome, which is necessary for the conception of a girl). In the case of the couples searching for tips for conceiving a boy, MicroSort selects the “male sperm” population, which is an enriched sperm population (because it contains increased percentages of the desired sperm, and might include a very small percentage of the unwanted sperm).
After the necessary sperm has been selected, in order to produce a baby of the desired sex, the gender-sorted spermatozoa that result from MicroSort must fertilize the egg cell, which means that the selected sperm population must be inserted in woman’s body for fertilization. This insertion can be accomplished only by using artificial insemination, which consists in introducing the selected sperm into the woman’s vagina or uterus (IUI – Intra-Uterine Insemination). In the case of the people wondering “how to conceive a baby boy?”, the Y-enriched sperm population is implanted in woman’s uterus.
If the couple has fertility problems, the needed sperm selected by MicroSort must fertilize the egg outside the woman’s body (by using IVF – In Vitro Fertilization); then, the fertilized egg (the zygote) is cultured for 2-6 days in a special medium and, finally, the best resultant embryos are implanted by the doctors into the woman’s uterus.
PGD (with IVF) Method – the best way to conceive a boy
Another artificial method used for gender selection is PGD (Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis), which uses IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) – PGD is actually an extension of IVF. PGD is a technique of embryo screening, which analyzes the embryos (obtained with IVF) prior to implantation. The embryos’ evaluation consists in determining their gender, which allows the selection of the embryos with the desired gender, which will be implanted back in the mother’s uterus. (Persons searching for tips for conceiving a boy must know that, in their case, only the selected male embryos will be introduced – by artificial means – in woman’s uterus.)
More specifically, the steps of the PGD (with IVF) method are: after using ovarian stimulation, multiple eggs are collected from the woman and fertilized in a laboratory using the man’s sperm and the IVF. Once the created embryos grow to 6-8 cells, from each embryo is extracted one cell, whose chromosome is analyzed to see if it has any genetic defects and to determine the embryo’s gender. Then, the most healthy embryos of the desired sex (for women who want to conceive a boy, it’s about the male embryos) are selected and implanted back into the woman’s uterus, using artificial insemination.
The Ericsson Method (discovered by Dr. Ronald J. Ericsson) is a prefertilization gender selection procedure, which increases the odds of conceiving a baby of a desired sex by using higher (but not pure) concentrations of desired sperm (i.e. of the desired gender). This technique is based on the fact that the male sperm swims faster than the female sperm. Starting from this observation, this method separates sperm sample into male and female sperm – creating separate layers of concentrated female and male sperm – by introducing the sperm sample into a column filled with human serum albumin and waiting for the two kinds of sperm to move depending on their mass. The resulting suitable enriched sperm samples are then used to artificially inseminate the woman, in order to produce a child of the desired gender (the women wondering “how do I conceive a boy?” should know that, in their case, only the Y- (or male) enriched sperm samples are inseminated).
Advantages and Disadvantages of the artificial methods
The most important (and probably the only) advantage of the artificial methods is that, unlike the natural methods, the artificial methods are clinically proven and, therefore, they are the only methods recommended by the scientists. The couples searching for tips for conceiving a boy must know about these opinions of the experts in this field of gender selection.
Indeed, PGD (with IVF) is the only technique with a success rate of 100 %2 – if it is used correctly and if there are no technical errors. MicroSort is a scientifically proven method, with a success rate of 93 % for girls and 82 % for boys. The Ericsson Method’s success rate is: 70-72 % for boys and 69-75 % for girls.
The first disadvantage of the high-tech methods is that they are very, very expensive (especially if they use IVF). The persons who want to conceive baby boy must know that the biggest downside of the artificial methods of sex selection derives from the fact that they use ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) – either IUI (Intra-Uterine Insemination) or IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) – to artificially inseminate the woman (i.e. to implant in her uterus), and this important downside refers to the discomfort created by the use of the artificial means to achieve a delicate task that should be accomplished in a natural way (by the woman’s partner).
The couples wondering “how to conceive a boy?” should also be aware of the fact that other drawback of the artificial techniques is this: the pregnancy is not even guaranteed by these methods (the artificial insemination can’t guarantee that). Moreover, the MicroSort method – even scientifically proven – is still considered an experimental technique . On top of all that, the gender selection is illegal in some countries of the world.
More useful information about the preconception gender selection methods can be found at the following important web addresses:
http://www.acog.org/Resources_And_Publications/Committee_Opinions/Committee_on_Ethics/Sex_Selection – the site of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
http://www.centerforhumanreprod.com/gender_selection.html – the site of the Center for Human Reproduction (New York)