When Can You Find Out the Sex of Your Baby?

Woman getting and ultrasound in pregnancy
Photo © Katrina Wittkamp/Getty Images

From early on in pregnancy, one of the first questions you might have is when can you tell the sex of the baby. There are multiple ways to potentially determine whether you're having a boy or girl, but not all of them may be accurate at all times. Take a look at what doctors use when.

Ultrasound

An ultrasound is the least invasive way to find out if you are having a boy or a girl. It is usually done between 18 and 22 weeks of pregnancy.

However, after about the 14th week of gestation, you can get a very accurate idea of your baby's gender bases on specific signs that technician's look for. They typically are looking at the direction of the genital tubercle, rather than the actual external genitalia.

The biggest risk of using an ultrasound is not getting the gestational age correctly identified. Prior to mid-pregnancy, the baby may not be well enough developed to get an accurate answer. After the midpoint in pregnancy, the baby is more crowded, making it more difficult to get a good view. The mid-pregnancy ultrasound done for the screening of fetal anomalies—not simply to find out the sex of the baby—is generally the best time to see your baby well.

Genetic Testing

Amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS) are genetic tests that can be used earlier to find out the sex of your baby. You can use these tests starting late in the first trimester and throughout the pregnancy for various reasons.

However, these tests are more invasive and can pose health risks to your baby, even though they also yield better information about genetics.

Many mothers are fearful of using the tests solely for finding out the baby's sex and wrangle with whether they even want to know anything about genetics. It's best to talk to your practitioner whether or not these tests are really needed.

Ramzi's Method

There is a newer method of finding out a baby's gender, one that is gaining popularity. It's called the Ramzi's Method, or Ramzi's Readings. This uses ultrasound in early pregnancy, as early as six weeks, to be able to tell the gender of your baby by on locating the placenta. Most physicians don't offer this, but you can certainly ask about it if you are having an ultrasound.

Maternal Blood Screening

There are newer tests available that look at cell free DNA, like the Harmony and MaterniT21. Most are looking at the baby's cells that are being shed into mom's bloodstream or urine. These tests can quickly and accurately tell expecting parents whether their baby is a boy or a girl, but this is an added benefit—the main use is for screening for genetic issues.

While these tests are available for any pregnant person, many times they are done only if a person is over 35 or has a potential issue with genetics that requires screening. These tests may or may not be paid for by your insurance, so be sure to check before agreeing to them.

A Word From Verywell

The majority of Americans choose to find out the sex of their baby before birth, but there are still a number of families who opt out of this decision.

Some do it for personal reasons and others do it because they don't have the means of getting certain tests, or because they were not able to get answers from the tests that they had done. While some advocates claim that finding out will help with bonding during pregnancy, others worry that gender disappointment may set some mothers and fathers up for depression in pregnancy.

Whether or not you choose to find out, know that gender reveal is a secondary goal for most of these tests. Although they are fairly accurate (more so than old wives' tales for determining the gender of your baby), gender testing is relatively new and the science was developed primarily for identifying the baby's health and potential genetic conditions prior to birth.

If your provider doesn't recommend getting a test done, it's best to follow his or her advice.

Sources:

Cell-free DNA screening for fetal aneuploidy. Committee Opinion No. 640. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2015;126:e31-7.

Odeh M1, Granin V, Kais M, Ophir E, Bornstein J. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2009 Jan;64(1):50-7. doi: 10.1097/OGX.0b013e318193299b. Sonographic fetal sex determination.

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