What Is the Shettles Method?

Can the Shettles Method really help me influence baby’s gender? How does it work?
profile picture of Wayne S. Maxson, MD, medical director, reproductive endocrinologist, and founder, IVF Florida Reproductive Associates
ByWayne S. Maxson, MD, medical director, reproductive endocrinologist, and founder, IVF Florida Reproductive Associates
Fertility Specialist
Updated
Mar 2017
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Named for its creator, Dr. Landrum Shettles, the Shettles Method attempts to stack the odds for having a boy or a girl. Here’s how it works: There are basically two types of sperm, those that carry the X chromosomes and those with the Y. A mother’s egg is always an X. If an X-carrying sperm fertilizes your egg first, you’ll have a girl. If the Y is the winner, you’ll have a boy. Shettles based his theories on the fact that X-bearing sperm survive longer in the cervical environment and are a little slower than the Y swimmers. But while the Y sperm are faster, they’re also a little more delicate. To have a girl, goes Shettles’ theory, you should plan on having sex two to three days before ovulation, which means the Y sperm will die off first and leave the X-ers ripe for fertilization. (Note this is the opposite plan of the Whelan Method, which says you should have sex on the early side to have a boy because they’ll hang around longer.) He also maintained you should avoid orgasms because it makes the vagina a less happy place for the X sperm, which like an acidic environment (that’s no fun!). To have a boy, on the other hand, the method says have sex as close to ovulation as possible and use sexual positions with deep penetration to help those speedy (but less strong) Y sperm reach their mark. Unfortunately, although Shettles himself claimed success, no one else has been able to show these methods will enhance your chances of having a boy or girl one way or the other. Your best strategy might just be to time your intercourse around your  ovulation and hope for a happy, healthy baby, no matter the gender.

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