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What is the Shettles Method?

The Shettles Method

Have you ever heard that you can influence the gender of your baby? What was likely being referenced is something called the Shettles Method.

The Shettles Method is founded on the idea that not only do X chromosomes and Y chromosomes carrying sperm have differing characteristics, but that parents have the ability to influence one or the other making to the egg, in turn resulting in the intentional selection of a baby of one gender or another.

Not surprisingly, there is a lot of skepticism surrounding this method and there is absolutely no guarantee that the Shettles Method will result in a baby of a certain gender. Despite the uncertainty, the good news is that engaging in the Shettles Method is in no way harmful to mom or baby, so there’s really nothing to lose if you’re hoping for a specifically gendered little one.

How Does the Shettles Method work?

The sex of your baby is determined by the sperm that fertilizes the egg. As you know, some sperm carry the X chromosome and result in a baby girl and some carry the Y chromosome and result in a baby boy.

The Shettles Method purports that sperm carrying the X and Y chromosome carry different characteristics and we can use those characteristics to encourage one type of sperm or the other to fertilize the egg over the other, thus swaying sex in that direction.

Based on these assumptions about the characteristics of X and Y chromosome carrying sperm, the Shettles Method claims that couples can engage in acts that influence one type of sperm or the other to fertilize the egg, thus choosing the sex of their baby.

These influential acts include timing intercourse, choosing certain positions, using abstinence to your advantage, controlling vaginal pH and strategically planning orgasms. We’ll go more in-depth into each of these later.

Where did it come from?

The Shettle Method was established by Landrum B. Shettles in the 1960s. The book How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby, coauthored by Shettle, popularized the method when it was first published in 1971. David Rorvik was Shettles’ co-author.

The book is still in print today and outlines various ways, not just the Shettles Method, couples may use to try to influence the sex of their baby. It was revised and republished most recently in 2006.

Doctor Shettles has since passed away, but his method remains very much in play with couples looking to sway the sex of their baby at conception.

What Is the Shettles Method Success Rate?

According to Doctor Shettles, the success rate of successfully choosing a baby boy or girl using the Shettles Method is 80–85% for parents trying for a boy and 75–80% for those trying for a girl.

How accurate is it?

It is difficult to measure how accurate the Shettles Method actually is. After all, even completely unfounded methods for swaying a baby’s sex will get gender selection right 50% of the time.

There are no shortage of stories of Shettles “opposites” being born of the undesired gender, and also no shortage of stories of parents who swear the Shettles Method is fully responsible for bringing a desired baby boy or girl into their home. The bottom line is that you must be fully prepared and okay with bringing either gender into your family as there is no way to guarantee gender aside from IVF gender selection.

Interestingly, couples who’ve had two children of the same sex are 75% more likely to have another baby of the same gender. This is because having two children of the same gender is an indicator that the male has more boy or girl sperm.

This is why you hear about families of all girls or all boys–many times going back generations with little or no representation of the other gender.

Benefits of the Shettles Method

The Shettle Method is the most affordable gender selection method, costing you only the price of a book if you don’t feel satisfied with the many online sources who can walk you through it for free. It also involves both partners, creating a sense of contribution and closeness on both their parts.

Engaging in the Shettles Method encourages body awareness and learning about and understanding fertility as a whole. Nothing suggested by the Shettles Method is damaging to the body or your future baby.

Finally, the Shettles Method is considered a natural way to sway gender, making it beneficial for individuals whose personal beliefs may conflict with sex selection.

Disadvantages of the Shettles Method

One disadvantage of the Shettles Method is that it’s easier to conceive a boy than a girl, so it may not be as effective if you’re hoping to sway the sex to female. Timing intercourse for the Shettles Method can lower your chances of conception overall, making it less likely to get pregnant.

This is especially a disadvantage for couples experiencing any fertility issues. Sticking to the Shettles Method involves time, planning and self-restraint, which is difficult to maintain. It takes both partners to get it right.

Finally, another disadvantage of the Shettles Method is that it can get a couple’s hopes up for having one gender or the other, but not pan out that way, leading to disappointment. The Shettles Method is never a guarantee of one gendered baby or another and should not be treated that way.

Key Factors When Using the Shettles Method


According to Doctor Shettles, timing is the single most important factor in making the Shettles Method work for you. According to him, the timing of sex has a direct influence on the gender of your future baby.

Having sex closer to the date of ovulation is said to make it more likely that you’ll have a boy. This is because of male sperm’s tendency to be speedier than female sperm and therefore likely to reach the egg sooner.

One thing to note is that some studies have shown no variance in the speed of X and Y chromosome carrying sperm.

On timing, the Shettles Method suggest having intercourse about 12 hours before ovulation at the peak of cervical mucus to have a boy. To have a girl, it suggests having sex 2 to 4 days before ovulation since female sperm are said to live longer and therefore have more time to travel to the egg.


According to the Shettles Method, couples hoping for a boy should not have unprotected sex for 4 to 5 days before ovulation. Those hoping for a girl should have sex as much as possible during the days between your last period and 2 to 4 days before ovulation. Then avoid intercourse until 2 to 3 days after ovulation.

Sexual Position

Sexual position is claimed to influence the sex fo your baby because of pH and penetration levels. The opening of the vagina is more acidic, so it’s conducive to having a boy if the sperm doesn’t travel through this area.

Positions that allow for deeper penetration help male sperm avoid this area and make it move likely to conceive a boy. Doctor Shettle suggest missionary to up your chances of having a girl.

Vaginal pH

Claims from Doctor Shettle suggest that the level of acidity in the vagina is favorable to X chromosome sperm because they are strong and bigger. The smaller, weaker male sperm are said to be killed off first.

On the day of ovulation, the vaginal environment is more alkaline and hospitable to male sperm, making it prime time to conceive a boy.


According to Shettles, couples hoping for a girl should avoid female orgasm during sex. However, those hoping for a boy are encouraged to orgasm at the same time or encourage multiple female orgasms.

Shettles purports that the waves of the orgasm can help draw the sperm toward the egg and give the speedier male sperm a head start.


The temperature of a man’s testicles can influence the sex of your future baby. Couples aiming for a boy should be sure the father keeps his testicles cool by avoiding tight clothing, hot tubs and baths.

Heat can kill sperm and male sperm are more sensitive and likely to be offed by high temperatures.

Difference between the boy and girl sperm

Y chromosome carrying sperm are said to be smaller and faster than their X carrying counterparts, making it easier for them to get to the egg quickly. That being said, they are also known to be less hardy and resilient, or in other words, more fragile than X carrying sperm.

Male sperm do no live as long as female sperm and die off much earlier due to this abbreviated life span. Male sperm are more alkaline resistant, meaning they’re more likely to thrive in higher pH environments.

This is important because pH in a woman’s vagina changes throughout her menstrual cycle. Y sperm do not do as well in acidic environments as X sperm.

X chromosome carrying sperm are purported to be slower and less mobile, but better equipped to handle the cervic’s acidic environment that precedes the production of fertile cervical fluid. They are bigger than male sperm and live longer, allowing them to fertilize an egg for a longer period than the Y carrying sperm can. They thrive better in an acidic pH environment.

Shettles Method for having a boy

  • Track fertility through basal body temperature charting and have sex when you are more fertile—when you are about to ovulate or just have. This is said to work because male sperm are faster and do not live as long.
  • Stay abstinent until right before ovulation when you are most fertile.
  • Try positions that allow for deeper penetration to encourage the sperm to arrive as close to the cervix as they can.
  • Orgasming at the same time can encourage male sperm to get where they need to go to have a boy.
  • Indulge in some caffeine via coffee or chocolate before sex, which makes Y sperm even more active.

Shettles Method for having a girl

  • Have lots of sex before ovulation. Track when you ovulate and cervical mucus changes to know when ovulation is coming using a tool like an ovulation kit.
  • Try shallow penetration positions, such as missionary.
  • The more often a man ejaculates, the lower the number of male sperm. If he orgasms more, you’re more likely to have a girl.
  • Woman should avoid having orgasms, which initiate contractions in the pelvic floor that help male sperm get to the egg.

Can diet affect the baby’s gender?

Studies released as recently as 2018 have found that diet can influence the sex of your future baby. New findings corroborate past findings that women who eat diets rich in calcium and magnesium and low in sodium and potassium may increase the likelihood of having a baby girl.

In the study, 81% of woman who combine timing and diet conceived a girl. The “girl diet” recommends:

  • 3 cups of milk
  • 2 other servings of dairy
  • Only low or sodium free cheese
  • Eggs
  • Mineral water
  • No more than 1 cup of weak tea or coffee
  • Salt free crackers and bread
  • White or brown rice
  • 8–10 cups of water

Other methods of Gender Selection

The Shettles Method is not the only gender selection method available to parents. IVF gender selection is the only surefire way to choose the gender of your child.

It is much more invasive and very expensive. It is virtually unheard of for couples to pursue IVF just for gender selection, but more and more couples are engaging in it as part of the IVF process being used for other reasons.

Other lab-based methods include the Microsort Method which dyes sperm cells based on the chromosome they’re carrying, separates them and then uses IUI to implant the gender-specific sperm.

Possible Social Consequences of Gender Selection

There are no shortage of social concerns surrounding gender selection. The most obvious is a potential shift in the gender balance, which has implications on the romantic prospects of generations and the survival outlook of our whole species.