Most couples just want a healthy baby when they are trying to conceive. But most of them also have an inclination when it comes to the gender of the unborn child. Some couples want a little boy, while some would love to raise a girl. However, it is not in our hands to decide that or is it? Old fashion intercourse lands you with a 50/50 chance of conceiving a boy or a girl. However, there are many couples, who if given an opportunity, would love to have the odds work in their favor. The reason behind it may be a cultural influence, wanting to raise a son or a daughter, or simply wanting some sort of gender balance in the family. Influencing the gender of the baby So how can you influence the gender of the unborn baby? Methods and traditions that claim to control the gender are as old as conception is. For example, the Germanic folklore suggested that keeping a spoon under the bed of the couple would ensure the birth of a girl. Similar theories like Talmudic advice claim to influence gender. Shettles Method Out of all the modern practices and procedures, the Shettles Method is the most popular. The method says that the Y-chromosome is lighter, faster, and short-lived than the X-chromosome. Pat Buie has authored the book, Choose the Sex of your Baby Naturally. The book encourages you to plan your intercourse depending on whether you want a girl or a boy. She says that couples who want a boy should have their intercourse sessions collide with ovulation. Similarly, those seeking a girl should have sex no later than two days before ovulation. Vitro fertilization (IVF) IVF is an expensive yet common practice for couples who are not able to conceive naturally. Recently, Chrissy Teigen and James Legend made headlines for ‘choosing’ the gender of the baby. Like you, many others were confused with the claim. However, there is a simple explanation. When the embryos are created in vitro, they often undergo a screening test. The test helps to spot healthy embryos and increases the chance of a healthy pregnancy. This is aimed to help women who had failed IVF cycles or went through miscarriages. It is not uncommon for couples to ask for embryos of a particular gender to be implanted. In fact, the percentage of couples who prefer a gender is much higher than those who do not. Sperm Sorting Many people prefer this method over others. However, the success rate is not as high as it is with IVF. Here is how it works. The semen sample that comes in undergoes a special kind of washing. The procedure helps remove non-active sperms and seminal fluid. The remaining sperms are stained with a dye that reacts with DNA. As it passes through a laser, it gets easier to identify x-sperm cells and y-sperm cells. According to the preference, the sample that has concentrated x-sperm or y-sperm gets transferred to the women’s uterus. Ericsson Albumin Method It is somewhat controversial, but also one of the only methods that is available in America. Effectiveness of this method by Dr. Ronald Ericsson is quite debatable. Although Dr. Ericsson claims that this method could tip the scale towards favorable gender, studies did not back up the claim. The practice requires placing specially washed sperm cells on top of albumin. Albumin is a type of protein that is naturally found in the semen. The gist is that the y-sperm will swim through the thick layer of albumin and then it will be transferred to the uterus. This process is supposed to increase the chances of a boy. There are additional steps if you want a baby girl. Although there are a ton of other methods, most of them revolve around having sex around ovulation or interfering with the semen. Is it unethical to pick the gender? Many feel that trying to determine the sex of the baby is messing with the natural way of conception. But, then there are others who feel there is nothing wrong with it if there is a genuine reason behind it. It is true that letting the parents choose the gender of the baby might be a slippery slope. In regions where there is a cultural influence that prefers a boy or girl child, it might become a concerning issue. While South Africa has banned parents a choice, the sperm-sorting procedure (MicroSoft) has been denied approval by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States of America. However, wanting to choose the gender of the child does not always come from a place of preference. For couples with a family history of certain diseases, it is more imperative than a choice. There are about 500 diseases that only affect the male child. However, the common practice of such methods could have couples use such methods to avoid a boy child or vice-versa. Many clinics use ‘pick the gender of your baby’ as a marketing tactic to attract potential couples. As interesting as these methods are, they are not foolproof. There are people who could swear that these methods worked for them, but those who do not believe in it may round it up to luck or probability. Both sides of the argument have points that will make you wonder. Experts usually advise against going for procedures like IVF just to influence gender. However, the end decision lies with you. If you are trying to conceive and want to try out one of the methods, you should speak to a doctor. They will be able to guide you towards the right treatment or away from one that might not be fit for you. Almost all the methods are still in the initial stages, which means that there is quite some time before their authenticity can be determined.