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The Shettles Method

Feb 24, 2022 | 2 minutes Read

Most couples are aware of strategies they can try to sway their odds of having a boy or a girl. And for all sorts of reasons, having a baby of a preferred gender can be enough to motivate them to try their luck. Luck is certainly a factor in the Shettles Method.

Dr. Landrum B. Shettles’ landmark book, How to Choose the Sex of your Baby, is still in print and was revised in 2011. Although its claims sound farfetched, his latest edition includes testimonials from delighted couples who found his techniques worked for them.

Although the Shettles Method offers a 70 to 90% chance of conceiving a baby of the preferred gender, it does not really consider the individual factors which so strongly influence whether a baby boy or a girl baby will be conceived.

How does the Shettles Method work?

Shettles believed that X and Y sperm contain different characteristics. Dependent on the timing and frequency of sex, couples can influence whether they conceive a boy or a girl. Shettles also believed the vaginal environment and pH can be a major contributing factor, and that having sex at particular times in a woman’s cycle can determine their likelihood of conceiving a boy or a girl.

There may be some truth in what Shettles claims because there is evidence that more girls are conceived right at the time of ovulation.

Where did the Shettles Method come from?

Dr. Landrum B. Shettles was an American biologist who invented his method in the 1960s. He was involved in the early-stage development of in vitro fertilization. It’s worth remembering that this was a time when contraceptive options were not as advanced as they are today, and choices were very limited. Any control over fertility, conception and gender selection was seen as an improvement on what had been until then—a bit hit and miss.

So, when Shettles’ method evolved, it quickly developed a loyal following. After all, couples now believed they had a 50% chance of getting the baby they wanted. In anyone’s language, the odds were not too bad. This, combined with the all-important factor of the Shettles Method being free, convinced couples to feel they had nothing to lose by trying it out.

To be fair, the Shettles Method did not and still does not offer any iron-clad guarantee that one or either sex will be conceived.

But is it true?

The Shettles Method is not based on hard scientific evidence. The only absolute fact when it comes to gender selection is that statistically, every couple has an almost equal 50% chance of conceiving a boy or girl baby with every pregnancy.

It is always the father who determines what sex the baby will be. This is because although babies inherit sex linked chromosomes from both their parents, the mother will always provide an X (female) and the father either an X or a Y (male).

If one of his sperm with an X sex chromosome matches with the woman’s X egg, then the resulting XX will make a girl. If one of his Y sperm matches with her X egg, then a boy is conceived.

What is the difference between the boy and girl sperm?

Y or “boy”:
  • Swim faster and can get to the egg more quickly than the X (female) sperm.
  • Y sperm tend to be small.
  • They are more fragile than the X sperm.
  • They do not live for as long as the female sperm and have a shorter life expectancy. They die off much earlier.
  • They are more resistant to higher pH environments. At different times of a woman’s menstrual cycle the pH of her vagina varies. Y sperm cannot tolerate the acidic environment of the vagina as well as X sperm do.
X or “female” sperm:
  • X sperm do not swim as fast as Y sperm and are generally slower-moving and less mobile.
  • They are bigger than Y sperm.
  • X sperm have a longer life span and can fertilize an egg for a longer period than Y sperm.
  • They have a lower vaginal pH.

An interesting fact

Couples who already have 2 of the same gender children are around 75% more likely to have the same gender baby again. It seems that some men produce better quality X or Y sperm. We all know families where couples only seem to have the recipe to make girls or boys and there may not have been a boy or a girl born for generations.

Shettles Method to have a boy

  • Aim to have sex when you are most fertile. Keep a basal body temperature chart and record your fertile days. When you have ovulated or are about t ovulate, have sex. This is because Y sperm swim faster and can’t hang around for as long.
  • Avoid having sex until just before you ovulate. Wait until you are most fertile.
  • Be creative with your sexual positions. Deep penetration is thought to help because the sperm can be deposited as close to the cervix as possible.
  • Simultaneous orgasms also help the Y sperm get to where they need to go.
  • Have a cup of coffee and share some chocolate before you have sex. The caffeine in these helps to propel the Y sperm and make them more active.

Shettles Method to have a girl

  • Aim to have a lot of sex before you ovulate. Track your ovulation cycles and mucus changes so you know when ovulation is close.
  • Shallow sexual positions may help.
  • The more frequently a man ejaculates, the less Y sperm. Rhe frequency of his orgasms is important if you want a girl baby.
  • Women need to hold back on having an orgasm. These help to initiate pelvic contractions which assist those Y sperm in their venture to the egg.

Benefits of the Shettles Method

  • It’s very cost effective—all you need is the book.
  • It helps couples bond together and make them feel they are both contributing.
  • The Shettles Method boosts body awareness and understanding of fertility.
  • There are no side effects of damage to the body from using this method.
  • It is seen as a natural way of increasing the odds of gender selection.

Disadvantages of the Shettles Method

  • It is more difficult to conceive a girl than a boy. Reducing the frequency of sex in turn reduces the likelihood of any conception.
  • The Shettles Method takes time, thought, and a little self-restraint. Each person in the relationship needs to work together with the other.
  • There is a potential for disappointment if the baby is not the preferred gender. Couples need to be very clear before trying the Shettles Method that it is not a guarantee and parents need to want a baby, rather than only one of a particular gender.

The information of this article has been reviewed by nursing experts of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, & Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN). The content should not substitute medical advice from your personal healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for recommendations/diagnosis or treatment. For more advice from AWHONN nurses, visit Healthy Mom&Baby at health4mom.org.