Gender Planning and Nutrition

Men and women have been trying to predetermine the sex of their babies for thousands of years. Countries limiting the number of children each family may have and the importance of carrying on the family name have pushed the research further. Advances in technology have increased the hope of being able to plan the sex of a child through medical intervention in the near future. Whether you run a farm and need boys to work the fields, have two boys already and want a girl, or simply prefer a particular sex over the other this topic has surely come up in the prenatal planning.

There are many ideas and theories about how to plan the sex of a baby before it is conceived. Most have not been proven, or for that fact disproved, in clinical trials. Even the ones with clinical evidence usually end up close to the usual 50-50 probabilities. You have a 50% chance of having a boy or a girl. It is just like flipping a coin. There are only two options and you will have one or the other. Of course, it never hurts to try.

One of the most well known theories in this field is the Shettles’ Method, by Dr. Landrum B. Shettles, M.D. Dr. Shettles explains that there are two types of sperm, the X (female) sperm and the Y (male) sperm. The male sperm is faster moving but weaker. The female sperm is slower moving but more durable. He also explains that the X sperm survives better in an acidic environment and the Y sperm prefers a more alkaline environment. Timing is also important since the weaker, faster Y sperm stand a better chance with intercourse close to ovulation and the slower, stronger X sperm can wait a little longer until the Y sperm are all gone. He explains these factors and how they relate to his suggestions for sexual position, timing, temperature and nutrition in his book How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby (Doubleday and Co., copyright 1984.)

Some other time tested (and not always true) methods include tying a string around the males left testicle for a boy and the right for a girl. This one came form France. Intercourse during the full moon is supposed to increase the chances of having a girl and the quarter moon should bring a boy. Babycentre ( says that to have a boy the woman must reach orgasm first, the male must initiate the intercourse, they conceive at night, and on the odd days of the month. For a baby girl the male must reach orgasm first, they must have frequent sex to lower sperm count, stop unprotected sex four to five days before ovulation, the male must keep his genitals warm by wearing close-fitting underwear and trousers, the female must initiate the lovemaking, they must conceive in the afternoon and on even days of the month, and put a wooden spoon under the bed and a pink ribbon under the pillow.

A theory gaining some exposure now is the idea of nutrition affecting the sex of a baby. This theory has different proponents preaching different diets but all agree that it is important not to overdo the diet idea. Healthy eating should be a primary concern for anyone trying to conceive. Avoiding alcohol, recreational drugs and smoking should be a major goal. Getting plenty of low fat, quality foods is also important. Limiting caffeine to below 300 mg. will help with overall fertility as well.

Dr. Shettles felt that caffeine, consumed by the man just before sex, would help favor a boy by boosting the motility of the Y sperm. In “The Ancient Art of Making Babies” ( Karen Springen says that for a girl the woman should eat vegetables, sweets and a high calcium diet. Babycentre says that plenty of milk and dairy foods, such as yogurt and cheeses, unsalted foods, rice, pasta, certain vegetables, mineral water and limited meats and potatoes will help sway the scale in favor of a girl. Avoiding salt and salty foods, wine and beer, fresh fruit, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, chocolate, coffee and tea will help also. For a boy they recommend salty foods, plenty of meat, fish, white flour, pasta, fresh fruit, and certain vegetables while avoiding milk and dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc., nuts, chocolate, shellfish and wholemeal bread.

The most prominent theoretical support behind this thinking is that these foods affect the pH levels in the body. Some foods increase the acidity of the female’s body (and possibly the males as well) while others increase the alkaline environment. In doing so they increase the chances of the selected sperm (X or Y) reaching the egg for fertilization. Because of this some people believe that eating highly acidic foods (vinegar, citrus fruits) while trying to conceive will help the X sperm. It has even been stated that antacids before sex will help lower the acid level in the body and favor a boy.

Another theory is that certain foods support sperm production and therefore increase the chances of the Y-sperm reaching the egg. Some believe that foods shaped like sex organs help to boost testosterone thereby supporting the Y sperm. Many nutritional supplements are made from the sex organs of animals because it is believed that these will support testosterone and sperm production. It is believed by many that a higher natural testosterone level will lead to a higher chance of conceiving a boy.

Some cultures even believe that certain foods have inherent male characteristics while others have female characteristics. Masculine and Feminine Foods (Fardah, Eagle Crest, 2003) states that some people believe that red meats, roots (potatoes, carrots, onions, etc.), salt-water fish, organ meat, and lard are conducive to conceiving a male. Foods such as seed bearing fruits and vegetables (apples, oranges, corn, etc), eggs, leafy vegetables, fresh water fish, nuts and seeds, and grains are thought to improve the chances of having a girl.

Babycountry ( states that sex on an empty stomach will increase the chances of conceiving a girl while a full stomach will sway the chances toward a boy. It also states that ice cold water consumed by the female immediately before sex increases the chances of a boy while hot drinks such as non-caffeinated tea or cocoa favor a girl. Some people believe that foods that release endorphins (such as chocolate) consumed just before sex by the female help to favor female babies. The opposite is true for males and boy babies.

While most OBs and other doctors do not buy into the nutrition theory one OB based in Maine stated that nutrition might help to change the pH environment thereby “changing a 50-50 chance into a 55-45 or possibly even a 60-40 chance.” She also stated that many of the nutritional recommendations to conceive either a boy or girl are sound choices and should be encouraged. Green, leafy vegetables, lean meats, pasta, fresh fruit and calcium-rich dairy foods should be a part of a balanced diet anyway.

The data is varied and there are many different ideas about what to eat and why. The theories do intersect in various areas and using this you can find ideas on what to eat to increase your chances of having a boy or girl.

A woman who is trying to have a girl should focus her diet on green, leafy vegetables, milk and other dairy products, unsalted foods, eggs, rice and pasta, nuts and seeds, grains, and acidic foods (to tolerance.) A hot drink on an empty stomach just before intercourse may also help conceive that girl, as may chocolate immediately before sex. For that baby boy foods such as red meat, fish, white flour, fresh fruits, potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, organ meat, and salty foods should be included in the diet. The antacid taken just before sex may help to lower acidity and favor that Y sperm. A full stomach during intercourse will help that Y sperm to win out as well.

Nutrition is an important part of prenatal care no matter what sex child you are trying to have. Poor nutrition can lead to fertility problems as well as birth defects and low birth weight. Women trying to conceive should eat foods rich in vitamin C and E. Folic acid is another important nutrient for fetal health. At least 400 micrograms of folic acid should be part of a woman’s daily diet and can be achieved by eating dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, nuts, legumes, whole grains and fortified breads and cereals. A daily prenatal vitamin will help as well. Calcium is also important for strong bones for both mother and baby and for breast milk production, along with vitamin D.

Nutrition for Dads is important too. Vitamin C and antioxidants help to prevent sperm defects and boost sperm motility. Zinc helps to increase semen volume and testosterone levels. Oysters are a great source of zinc, as are extra lean ground beef, baked beans, and dark chicken. Folic acid helps keep the sperm count up and calcium and vitamin D are important for sperm health as well. Low fat milk and yogurt are good sources of calcium and milk and salmon are good sources of vitamin D.

A man who wants to help with the gender planning of his child can also use nutrition as a tool. A man who wants a baby girl should plan his meals around high calcium foods (milk, cheese, yogurt), mineral water, citrus fruits (and other acidic foods), nuts and seeds, rice and unsalted foods. Odds for a baby boy increase when he eats salty foods, meats, salt-water fish, fresh fruits, organ meat, lard, pasta, and salty foods. A blast of caffeine or chocolate just before intercourse is also a good measure to ensure a baby boy. Sex after a workout when the testosterone levels are higher is also believed by some to help favor a baby boy.

All of these methods have been “real world” tested and have met with mixed results. When trying to conceive a child nutrition plays an important part. Whether trying to plan the sex of the baby or simply trying to have a healthy, happy baby nutrition should be at the top of the list of concerns.

Most people try a combination of methods including sexual position, timing, diet, and a small bit faith. No matter the method chosen, a fair bit of luck is involved. If you want to conceive a particular sex child it doesn’t hurt to give luck a little boost by implementing some of these methods for good measure. Remember to follow a balanced diet and use common sense when trying new methods to conceive and even if you do not meet with success the new experience should certainly spice things up.

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