Trying to conceive

couple cuddling in bed in article about if sex positions determine baby gender
jeffbergen/E+/Getty Images

Can Sex Positions Determine A Baby's Gender? Experts Weigh In

Imagine if doggy-style meant you were having a boy.

There are a lot of interesting pregnancy myths out there — so much so that it can be hard to determine what is totally false and what is actually true. For example: the myth that you can’t get pregnant when you’re on your period? Not true! But the idea that heartburn during pregnancy means your baby has a lot of hair? This actually can be correct. So, where does the idea that sex positions can determine a baby’s gender fall?

It’s commonly believed that engaging in certain sex positions when trying to conceive can result in a baby of a specific gender, but for couples who are trying to conceive a baby of a particular gender, this can seem a little too good to be true. After all, if sex positions actually determined a baby’s gender, wouldn’t everyone be able to have the girl they always dreamed of, or the son they really wanted?

A baby’s gender is determined at the moment of fertilization by the combination of X and Y chromosomes the baby gets from the egg and sperm. All eggs have one X chromosome, and sperm contain either an X or a Y chromosome, meaning your baby’s gender is decided by the sperm. Some people believe that different sex positions determine which sperm enters the egg. But, is there any truth behind these rumors? We asked experts to find out.

Missionary versus girl-on-top — which is the best sex position for having a girl?

If you’ve heard that having sex in the missionary position means you’ll probably have a girl, you aren’t alone. Many people believe that sex positions that don’t offer deep penetration, like missionary, girl-on-top, or spooning, means a couple will have a higher chance of having a girl. The idea behind this is that when there is more shallow penetration, the sperm have to travel further to get to the egg, and female sperm are more able to go the distance.

“I was taught in my training that male sperm were faster and died quicker, while female sperm were slower and lasted longer,” Dr. Betsy Greenleaf, a urogynecologist, tells Romper. “It wasn’t until I looked deep into the research that I discovered this is not true. This widely believed misconception originated from studies by researcher L.B. Shettles in the 1960’s, and the belief that male Y sperm are faster and physically different than female X sperm has affected research for years. However, in 1988, computer technology research demonstrated that there is no speed or size difference between male and female sperm.” In other words? The depth of penetration during sex does not affect the gender of the baby conceived.

Addictive Stock / Lightsy/Addictive Stock/Getty Images

Is doggy style good for having a boy?

Wondering how to have a boy? Many people believe that sex positions that offer deep penetration — like doggy style — will result in a baby boy. Again, the thinking here is based in the so-called “Shettles method”, which asserts that male sperm don’t survive as long as female sperm, meaning that male sperm require deep penetration to be able to reach the egg. But as Greenleaf clarified above, the Shettles method has largely been debunked. Sex positions likely do not predict baby gender. “It really is a game of chance,” Greenleaf says.

If a woman orgasms, does that mean she’ll have a girl?

Another myth about sex and baby gender is that any sex position that makes a woman orgasm could mean she’ll have a girl. Supposedly, when a woman orgasms, there is a shift in the pH balance that makes the conditions more acidic, and male sperm can’t survive that as well as female sperm.

“The pH of the vagina is acidic at 3.5-4.5,” Greenleaf explains. “The pH of semen is more acidic at 7-8. Sexual arousal in a woman increases lubrication. This fluid is derived from blood and has a pH of 7 thus helping to neutralize the pH of the vagina, making the environment more supportive of sperm. It is true that sperm do not survive as well in an acidic environment, but sexual arousal and orgasm aides to create an environment that supports sperm.” Basically, an orgasm during sex may help with conception, but it’s not going to determine the gender of your baby.

If you time sex correctly, can you determine the baby’s gender?

There is also a theory that if you abstain from having sex until ovulation, you can help determine the gender of a baby. “The Shettles Method focused on timing of intercourse as well as shallow vs. deep penetration,” explains Dr. Monica Grover, OB-GYN and chief medical officer at VSPOT. “If a woman has intercourse a few days after menstruation but abstains from intercourse prior to her ovulation, as well as on the day of her ovulation, then ideally this would determine a female gender as the X sperm swims slowly but has a higher survivability as it can also adapt very well to an acidic vaginal environment. The more shallow the penetration, then the X chromosome is able to thrive and outlast the Y chromosome due to the acidic vaginal pH.”

However, while timing sex around ovulation has been shown to help you get pregnant, it hasn’t been shown to determine a specific gender.


Can sex positions determine a baby’s gender?

So, can a specific sex position help you “pick” the gender of your baby? In short, no. “Although it does seem exciting to think something as simple as a specific position can determine a baby’s gender, studies have shown that this idea is most likely a myth and not factually accurate,” Grover says.

Are there any ways to determine a baby’s gender during conception?

We hate to break it to you, but if you were hoping for one gender or another, you’re just going to have to roll the dice. “There have been ongoing studies, as well as clinical findings that use sophisticated reproductive technology such as computer assisted microscopes, which confirm that there are no differences between X and Y spermatozoa,” Grover says. “Other data has shown that positions nor menstrual or ovulatory timing of intercourse bears any merit towards gender determination.”

The only way to choose the sex of your baby is through in vitro fertilization, when the sperm is treated with chemicals to separate male and female sperm. “Having sex during a lunar eclipse, while eating bananas, and doing it doggy style won’t give you a baby boy,” Greenleaf jokes. “There are just some things in life we can’t control, and it is more important to accept and be grateful for what we do get in life.” It doesn’t matter when or which way you have sex, you can’t pick the gender of the baby you conceive.


Dr. Betsy A.B. Greenleaf, Urogynecologist

Dr. Monica Grover, Board-Certified Gynecologist and health expert at VSPOT