Tools and Resources

Baby's sex: Can parents choose?

Is there any way to influence a baby's sex?

The short answer is no there's not much the average couple can do to affect a baby's sex.

In one study, women who ate breakfast cereal daily around the time of conception were more likely to conceive boys but some scientists question the study's method of analysis. In addition, countless old wives' tales suggest that everything from a woman's diet to sexual position during conception can affect a baby's sex, but 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 may use high-tech interventions to influence the chance of conceiving a girl. For example:

  • Preimplantation genetic diagnosis. 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.

Despite the feasibility of these techniques, they're rarely used when choosing a baby's sex for personal reasons is the only motivation.

Updated: 4/29/2011

© 1998-2014 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "," "EmbodyHealth," "Enhance your life," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

Legal restrictions and terms of use applicable to content provided to this site by Clinic Health Information. Use thereof signifies your agreement to these terms of use.