Finding Out If You're Having a Boy or Girl in Pregnancy

Newborn twins sleeping on white blanket

It is hot on everyone's mind in pregnancy: Are you having a boy or a girl? It seems like all anyone can think about as soon as you announce your pregnancy is how to determine if you're pregnant with a boy or girl as quickly and as early as possible.

First of all, despite the fact that it seems like everyone is wanting to find out the sex of their baby before birth, that's not true. Depending on where you live, only about eighty percent of parents choose to find out during pregnancy that they're having a boy or girl.

So, if you are not interested in finding out, don't be concerned. Now if you don't agree on whether to find out or not, that's another story!

1. Mid-Pregnancy Ultrasound

Ultrasound is probably the most common method of finding out the sex of your baby. This is generally done between eighteen and twenty weeks of pregnancy. If your practitioner schedules an ultrasound for this point on a routine basis your insurance may or may not cover this charge. Sometimes you will have to schedule an ultrasound specifically to find out your baby's sex. This can run you upwards of three hundred dollars out of pocket and is generally not covered by insurance. Remember an ultrasound can't always tell the sex of your baby, isn't always right, and sometimes the office policies are not to tell you the sex of your baby. So be sure to ask those questions before agreeing to an ultrasound. There are also stores that provide this service not affiliated with a medical practice.

These are not recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they are called keepsake ultrasound.

2. Ramzi's Method of Early Ultrasound

There is also a newer method of determining the sex of your baby in early pregnancy via ultrasound that can be used at around the six week mark in pregnancy.

This is called the Ramzi's Method. It is used to determine whether you're having a boy or girl based on the location of the placenta in early pregnancy. It is not commonly done, but it is something that is catching on via the Internet. One thing to be careful of here is that sometimes what you see on the screen during an ultrasound is a different orientation than what it really is in real life. If you're having an early ultrasound in pregnancy, be sure to ask about the location of the placenta rather than guess based on the screen appearance. 

3. Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is also used to determine the sex of your baby before birth. Because each of these also carries a potential risk to the baby and the pregnancy, they are rarely used to solely find out the sex, but rather for a specific search for genetic information. The two most common invasive methods would be the amniocentesis and the chorionic villus sampling (CVS). CVS can be a done between the tenth through the twelfth week, while amniocentesis is generally done after week sixteen, but can be done slightly earlier.

These tests are nearly ninety-nine percent accurate in telling you the baby's sex. Again, because of the small chance of infection or pregnancy loss associated with these methods, they are not frequently used as sole methods of determining the sex of your baby. This information is more an added benefit.

Another type of genetic testing is done using a maternal blood sample. These newer tests using fetal DNA found in the mother's blood now being used are called cell free DNA tests. These are used in the late first trimester.

4. Intelligender

There is also a urine based home test called Intelligender. This test can be used as early as the tenth week of gestation. It looks for certain cells in the urine of the mother to determine whether she is carrying a boy or a girl. It is sold online and at drugstores and can be used without the use of your doctor. This is not based on science and has no research behind it. That said, many women chose to do it for fun before they would be able to find out from their doctor or midwife. 

5. Belly Size and Shape

Have you heard the one about your belly size and shape? As you can see from the pregnant belly photos, bellies are very different from one another. Most of the tales say that out front and round is boy. If you look pregnant all over, or are carrying side to side, it is supposed to be a baby girl. The truth is, this is a very common old wives tale but it can be super fun to do. Largely the size and shape of your belly is determined by your body before pregnancy, the amount and speed of weight gain in pregnancy, and other factors that are largely out of your control.

6. Chinese Lunar Calendar

Chinese Lunar Calendars are another pseudo-scientific sounding method of predicting if you're having a boy or girl this pregnancy. This actually draws quite a bit of questions about, usually because you can find at least four different versions on the Internet as to what is a boy designation and what is girl. These are also for fun and I wouldn't place a lot of stock in them for accuracy. Based on the mother's age at the time of conception and the month that conception took place, you will be told the sex of your unborn (or preconceived) baby. Some people claim that the differences come from the fact that the Chinese consider a newborn baby one year of age.

7. Fetal Heart Rate

Many years ago people started to say that if you look at the fetal heart rate that you can predict the sex of your baby. The old saying is that above 140 beats per minute is a girl and below 140 beats per minute is a boy. There has been some research done on this one to determine if it is or isn't accurate. Some people tried to say that this was only if you looked during the first trimester, but that's also been proven to be not true. Even with all of that said, some people still swear by it and it certainly makes for a fun game.

8. Folklore and Old Wives Tales

Old Wives tales and folklore are all parents had to go by not that long ago. Yup, those old wives are at it again! These are harmless, but people claim that they are fairly accurate, although it is meant to be for fun. If it's right, that is just an added bonus! This Boy or Girl Test can be a lot of fun and combines many of the old wives tales and folklore to increase the odds. It asks questions about things like what you ate and how you sleep to help predict the sex of your baby.

Preplanning the Sex (Sex Selection)

It is hard to talk about the sex of your baby in pregnancy without mentioning the ability for preplanning the sex of your baby. After all, why leave anything up to chance! You can now try specifically for a boy or girl. (Actually, there is a slightly better chance that everyone will have a boy! Older mothers are also more likely to have boys according to some recent studies.) Most of the sex selection methods are based on high stakes medical procedures that are risky and costly. Though there are also a fair share of sex selection theories purported by individuals without a lot of data or science behind them.

It's a...

The sex of your baby is something that you will eventually find out, whether than be at some point in pregnancy or at the moment of birth. There are people who say that finding out helps them bond during pregnancy and those who say that not knowing the sex of their baby helps them with that final push at the very end of labor as a source of motivation. Either way, most parents are really excited and easily recall how they felt, the moment that they heard the magical words, "It's a..."


Bracero LA, Seybold DJ, Witsberger S, Rincon L, Modak A, Baxi LV. First trimester fetal heart rate as a predictor of newborn sex. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2016 Mar;29(5):803-6. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2015.1019457. Epub 2015 Mar 10.

Iruretagoyena JI, Grady M, Shah D. Discrepancy in fetal sex assignment between cell free fetal DNA and ultrasound. J Perinatol. 2015 Mar;35(3):229-30. doi: 10.1038/jp.2014.231.

McKenna DS, Ventolini G, Neiger R, Downing C. Gender-related differences in fetal heart rate during first trimester. Fetal Diagn Ther. 2006;21(1):144-7.

Ramzi Ismail, Saad. "The Relationship Between Placental Location and Fetal Gender (Ramzi’s Method)." Web.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Ultrasound Imaging. July 2016.

Villamor E, Dekker L, Svensson T, Cnattingius S. Accuracy of the Chinese lunar calendar method to predict a baby's sex: a population-based study. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2010 Jul 1;24(4):398-400. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2010.01129.x.

Continue Reading