Determining a Baby's Gender

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on determining a baby's gender.

The Differences Between Men and Women
Sex and Gender
Hey Doc, some boys are born girls
Gender Fluidity
The Secret Skills Gap Between Men and Women

Boy Or Girl? Determining A Baby's Gender
How Gender Determination Works
Understanding The Myth
Changing Your Odds
The Bottom Line
Gender Equality
This dad knew exactly what to say when his son asked for a mermaid doll for his birthday.

Boy Or Girl? Determining A Baby's Gender

The rather miraculous process of human reproduction is surrounded in mystery and myth. Theories abound regarding how to improve fertility, treat morning sickness and induce labor. Predicting a baby's gender is another area filled with knowing opinions based largely in folklore and intuition.

I have recently heard it suggested that sperm for male children come from one testicle, and sperm for female children come from the other one. The evidence for this concept? A man who had damage to one testicle (from mumps) had five sons because his "female testicle" was not working. This myth follows a basic misunderstanding about gender determination (not to mention that when mumps causes inflammation of the testicle, it usually affects them both).

How Gender Determination Works

Although there is no such thing as a "female testicle" or a "male testicle," a baby's gender is determined by his or her father. If the father provides an X chromosome, the baby will be female, and if he supplies a Y chromosome, the baby will be male. The body has no mechanism to segregate the X sperm from the Y sperm.

Because sperm containing X chromosomes and sperm containing Y chromosomes are nearly equal in number and because the chances for either type of sperm to fertilize an egg are roughly equal, each naturally occurring conception leads to an equal chance of having a boy or a girl.\

Mothers can provide only an X chromosome, so they do not have the same influence over gender.

Understanding The Myth

Myths regarding how baby boys or girls are determined probably have their roots in at least two faulty assumptions. One is the concept that past events alter future ones. For example, the chances that a couple will have five boys in a row is one in 32 (or about three in 100); but with each individual child, the chances of having a boy are one in 2 (50 percent), even if the couple already has four sons. Another assumption is that when something unusual happens (for example, having five boys in row), there must be an explanation that is separate from the normal state of affairs. Although unusual things do happen, they do not imply that the laws of nature should be repealed!

It is perhaps easy to see how the notion of "testicular gender" might take hold, since there are two genders and two testicles. For a father who has five sons, it may be tempting to assume that a single functioning testicle has led to this otherwise unlikely situation, yet men who have had a testicle removed surgically (for example, because of an injury or a tumor) still father male and female babies in equal proportions.

Changing Your Odds

Despite what you may have heard, there is relatively little a couple can do -- through naturally occurring conception -- to alter the chances of conceiving a boy or a girl. Many people believe that position during intercourse, diet, the lunar cycle or gender patterns in the couple's families all contribute to the sex of the baby. In fact, these factors have no well-established effect.

However, the timing of intercourse can have an effect. Sperm carrying Y chromosomes apparently swim faster but do not survive as long as their X-carrying counterparts. So if a couple has intercourse right at the time of ovulation, the faster-swimming male sperm have an advantage, and a male baby is slightly more likely. But if the timing is a day or two earlier, more of the male sperm die out, and a female baby is a bit more likely. Even so, it is often difficult to time ovulation accurately, and your odds of determining gender do not change much. Without the application of advanced (and sometimes invasive and expensive) technology, such as in vitro fertilization, the chances of conceiving a boy or a girl remain close to equal.

The Bottom Line

If you have a strong preference for a boy or a girl, your options are limited. You could plan to have enough babies so both genders are eventually represented. Or it may be better to rethink your position and hope for a healthy baby of either sex.

Source: Robert H. Shmerling, M.D., Robert H. Shmerling, M.D., is associate physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. He has been a practicing rheumatologist for over 20 years at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He is an active teacher in the Internal Medicine Residency Program, serving as the Robinson Firm Chief. He is also a teacher in the Rheumatology Fellowship Program.

This dad knew exactly what to say when his son asked for a mermaid doll for his birthday.

A toy is a toy is a toy. It's really that simple.


"Now, how do you think a dad feels when his son wants to get this?"

That's the question YouTuber and proud dad Mikki Willis asked viewers, while holding a mermaid doll in a video posted online on Aug. 23, 2015, his son, Azai, trying not to smile in the background.

Some dads wouldn't be cool with their sons playing with Little Mermaid dolls or, you know, playing with dolls at all. But after a few chuckles, both Willis and Azai yell happily, "Yeah!"

Willis decided to support his son's decision to get whatever toy he wanted, without letting gender stereotyping get in the way. And — judging by the outpouring of support in the video's comments section — he's not alone in encouraging his son to like what he likes, stereotypes be damned.

The video — which Willis captured after a trip to the toy store for Azai to swap out one of his birthday presents — is gathering steam online. In just about two days, it's already garnered more than 236,000 views.

I'd say that's no coincidence, seeing as it touches on one very hot topic.

Gender stereotyping in toys is one issue making waves right now.

Just this month, retail giant Target announced it was phasing out boy-girl references throughout its stores in sections where "suggesting products by gender is unnecessary," such as toys, kids' bedding, and entertainment.

"There is no 'boy side' or 'girl side' to childhood," Melissa Atkins Wardy, a children's retail expert and business owner, told Upworthy in support of Target's decision. "Why would we tell a kid they can't like cars or pirates or fairies or pink? Go for it, kid."

Willis would agree — why limit what toys his son should and should not enjoy?

Willis explained that he wasn't at all surprised when Azai selected the mermaid toy.

"Many are asking me, 'How did you feel the moment Azai chose that doll?'" he wrote in the video's description. "The honest answer is, it didn't surprise me at all. Azai is equally fascinated by princesses and robots."

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