Ever since mankind figured out that storks put babies in ladies' bellies, they've been trying to figure out how to make sure those babies would turn out to be boys.
(That's right. We're off to a roaring start.)
Somehow, yesterday, I fell down an Internet rabbit hole about gender selection. No, this is not even remotely related to me wanting to conceive a child. (So take a deep breath, my parents, my girlfriend's parents and any child protective services agents reading this. You're clear.)
I put together this list of 11 of my favorite techniques that couples use to try to pick their future child's gender. A good number of these seem to squarely fall under the umbrella of myth... but, hey, when you're right 52 percent of the time, you're wrong 48 percent of the time.
Here are 11 gender selection techniques, ranked from most effective to least effective.
She was made in a cup. Like soup.
Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD). Apparently, in this day and age, it actually is possible to play God and definitively pre-select your baby's gender. Of course, in order to play God, it's gonna cost you.
For about $20,000 a shot, a fertility clinic will take a woman's eggs, fertilize them with a guy's sperm in a petri dish, then test the embryos for gender. When it finds a couple with the gender you want, those get transferred back to the woman's uterus.
If it works and the pregnancy is on (with IVF, it's about a 50-50 chance you'll get pregnant), there's almost a 100 percent chance you'll get a baby with the gender you want.
But just remember: I wasn't joking earlier when I said this was playing God. And you don't want to be God. Remember the two things "Bruce Almighty" taught us: (1) God gets constantly harassed by mortals asking him to do a bunch of shit for them and (2) "Ace Ventura" looks more and more like a hilarious fluke with each passing Jim Carrey vehicle.
MicroSort. It's like Microsoft, but, unlike Vista, it actually works 75 percent of the time.
MicroSort is based around a theory that girl sperm (technically, girl-producing sperm, but that's gonna get cumbersome to type) are bigger than boy sperm. It's like all the sperm are at a 6th grade dance.
In MicroSort, they take a guy's sperm, put it in a tube, and filling the sperm with dye. The larger, lady sperm consume more dye, which makes them glow brighter when a laser is shined on them. The brighter girl sperm are sorted out from the less-bright boy sperm and the woman is inseminated with only the gender sperm of her choice.
They say it's about 90 percent successful at choosing girls and 75 percent successful at choosing boys. (Not all of the other gender sperm can be rooted out, but it's easier to root out the male sperm.)
And sure, this technique isn't FDA approved... artificial insemination only has a one in six chance of leading to pregnancy... and it costs around $3,000 per shot -- but you didn't buy that baseball mitt, DVD of "Jackass" and lessons on how to be a taxi driver just to end up with a daughter, right?
The Ericsson technique. In the point before, I talked about how female sperm are bigger than male sperm. Well... turns out, they're also slower. This technique banks on that.
They take a sperm sample, put it in a test tube, then fill the tube with glue. Not any glue, though -- Science Glue. (That means it's way more expensive and its label probably doesn't have a picture of a cow on it.)
The faster, male sperm make it to the bottom of the glue first. At that point they're separated from the lagging female sperm and artificially inseminated.
Ronald Ericsson, the man behind this technique, says it's 78 to 85 percent effective for selecting a boy and 73 to 75 percent effective for selecting a girl. Some fertility doctors disagree and say it doesn't work at all... but at $600 a pop, it's way cheaper than those other clinical techniques.
This is Dr. Shettles. Do you want this man picking the sex of your baby?
A home kit based on the Shettles method. The Shettles method is based on a woman's ovulation cycle. The only thing I base around a woman's ovulation cycle is what nights I shouldn't complain about how the ziti tastes! (Sorry for that HI-YO!-esque joke. I blame all the recent news coverage of Jay Leno. I have his comedic sensibilities on the brain.)
If you want a boy, have sex as close as possible to ovulation. If you want a girl, have sex two to four days before ovulation. (This should come easily to those of you who are already practicing the rhythm method -- my favorite birth control method ever -- and I know it's a lot of you.)
You can buy a home kit that'll come with a bunch of charts, and a thermometer (so you can check your temperature, to find out when you're ovulating), and probably a few other useless throw-ins too. (Like when you just want to get a hands-free and a car charger for your cell phone but the package also includes a hideous case and a sticker that supposedly enhances your reception.)
Dr. Landrum Shettles, the founder of this method, says it's 75 percent effective; others say it's much lower.
A home kit based on the completely-conflicting Whelan method. One of the people who says it's lower: Elizabeth Whelan. She's got her own ovulation-based gender selection plan... and, well, it works in direct conflict with the Shettles plan.
According to Whelan, boys aren't made right around ovulation, girls are. She thinks boys are made early in a woman's cycle, at least four to six days before ovulation.
She says her technique is 68 percent effective for boys and 56 percent effective for girls.
This is around the point in this list where you should be thinking: (1) Wait... the fact that there are conflicting theories about the same dates clearly shows this is pseudoscience and (2) Is it really worth bothering for a 56 percent chance when the odds of having a girl, no technique used, is 50?
Female sperm, in my analogy.
Changing sexual positions. And now we get to the point on the list where all the scientists have gone home to bed and we get the old wives' tales up to bat.
First up: Picking the right sexual position.
If you want a boy, people have suggested the following positions:
With the woman just kinda lying there
At least one of those comes with a theory that kinda, sorta, remotely might work. The thought is that with the woman just kinda lying there, the sperm are having an unobstructed, interference-free race to the egg... so the faster boy sperm can get there first.
Like how in a pure 100-meter race, Usain Bolt would win... but if it was 100-meters with people firing guns at the runners and the track was made out of loose gravel, then someone bigger and sturdier, like Robocop, would beat him.
Switching up your douching agent. Yes, in 2010 the ratio of people who call people douchebags versus people who actually use douchebags is something like 6.6 billion to three.
But if you want to take a shot at gender selection... and things like doggy style and eating a whole mess of Lays seem too mundane for you... there's a theory sloshing around out there about douching agents.
They (and by they, I have no idea specifically whom) say that douching with water and vinegar makes the vagina more acidic and, therefore (?), more inviting to girl sperm. I think this has something to do with the Secret deodorant ads about how it's pH balanced for a woman, but I haven't been in chemistry class in 15 years, and I spent the majority of my time in said class staring at the periodic table on the wall and writing down awesome chemical compound anagrams. (Yeah, there's a reason I'm now a blogger with black-framed glasses who can recite half of "The Simpsons" episodes from memory and considers php coding a fun leisure activity.)
Back to the lecture at hand, douching with water and baking soda makes the vagina more alkaline and, thus, more boy-friendly. That's right. We were talking about douching before I went off on a tangent.
Pastrami AND TV?
Eating a boy- or girl-friendly diet. If you want a boy, eat red meat (like, really red) and salty foods like pretzels and chips. Sorta makes George Costanza's whole plan of eating pastrami during sex seem like a viable, male-making option. Other No Ma'am foods include cereal and bananas.
If you want a girl, eat lots of fish and vegetables, then finish it off with some chocolate. You know, everyone's favorite meal: Red snapper, cauliflower and a hot fudge sundae.
There's no numbers out there on how effective these food choices are, but I'd venture to say it rhymes with thrifty curspent.
Changing who climaxes first. The theory here is that whichever gender hits orgasm first dictates the sex of the child conceived -- so if man goes first, it'll be a boy; if the woman goes first, it'll be a girl.
I find myself wholeheartedly skeptical about this... I mean, if this were true, wouldn't 99.994 percent of the babies in the world be male. Whoa! (Must... exorcise... the Leno.)
Consulting with the Chinese. And no, this does not mean doing a method of gender selection from old school China: Leaving your female baby on the doorstep of an orphanage.
The Chinese came out with a chart (I've included it below) where, based on the mother's age and the month of conception, they predict the gender.
I would've tested it out to see if they got my birth right but I have managed to spend 30 years not thinking about my conception and I'm not going to break that streak now.
Making a hubris-y statement. I wanted to end the list with a method that would actually make your gender selection chances UNDER 50 percent, and the only one I could find was... hubris.
So, if you want to make sure you have a girl, here's what you do: Paint the baby's future room blue, tell all your family and friends you're naming the baby Jake Boyman, write a huge list about gender selection where you take at least three exceptionally sexist digs at having a daughter, and, every time you have sex, yell back and forth "Are we makin' a boy? Hell yeah we're makin' a boy! That steak dinner, baking soda douche and premature ejactulation are gonna hook us UP."
There's no way the gods are going to let you get away with that. You're having a girl.
This post was originally published on Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 10:00:00 AM under the category Dating & Sex.