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The Shettles Method

What Is It? Does It Work?

The Shetttles Method


In the 1960s in the United States Landrum B. Shettles developed the Shettles method, which is a procedure for couples to use prior to and during an intercourse to increase their chances of conceiving a fetus of their desired sex.

Shettles, a physician, who specialized in obstetrics and gynecology, found a difference in the size and shape of male sperm cells that he correlated with the different sex chromosomes they carry. Based on that finding, Shettles developed procedures for couples to follow based on whether they desire a female or a male fetus and published them in the 1970 book, Your Baby’s Sex: Now You Can Choose.

The Shettles method is based on the idea that male-producing sperm prefer alkaline conditions, whereas female-producing sperm prefer acidic conditions. The Shettles method provides couples with a procedure intended to enhance the favored environment for the sperm that will supposedly produce the desired sex, including female douches to be used before intercourse and how to time sexual intercourse within the female menstrual cycle.

The book How To Choose The Sex Of Your Baby made the Shettles method a widely popular method of natural sex.

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The Shetttles Method

What Is It? Does It Work?

If you’ve read The History of Sex Selection at this site, you know that for centuries couples seeking to influence gender outcomes had to rely on superstition, at worst, and flawed science, at best, with universally dismal results.  It wasn’t until well into the 20th Century that scientists had the tools necessary to study the genesis and actions of the male and female “sex cells” (male sperm and female ova) and begin to find scientifically sound methods of influencing their behavior.  

At the beginning of his career as a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Shettles was frequently asked by patients who were prospective parents if there was anything they could do to tip the balance in favor of begetting offspring of the desired gender.  It disheartened him to have to tell them that science had nothing to offer in this regard.  But their persistent questions did not go unheeded, and Dr. Shettles soon began devoting more of his time trying to find a positive answer.

He was among those who had helped establish that there are two types of sperm, androsperm (male-producing sperm) and gynosperm (female-producing sperm), incidentally putting to rest for good that it was the female partner who determined gender.  Dr. Shettles intensified his microscopic study of living sperm in physiological fluids that mimicked the fluids that are found, under varying circumstances, in the cervical canal and fallopian tubes.  Over time, he observed various differences in the behavior and durability of the two types of sperm.  In some environments, it emerged, the somewhat larger, hardier female-producing sperm could survive longer and stood a better chance of fertilizing the egg cell in a process that combined male and female chromosomal characteristics and created an embryo.  On the flip side of this discovery, he also observed that the smaller male producing sperm were more agile and speedier, allowing them, under the right conditions, to get to the egg first and achieve fertilization with a male-offspring outcome. 

These literally seminal discoveries formed the foundation of the Shettles Sex Selection method.  It became clear to Dr. Shettles that both timing of intercourse and manipulation of the status of intra-vaginal, intra-fallopian tube environments could achieve what so many of his patients wanted—a tipping of the balance in favor of one gender or the other.  Here, at last, was a truly scientific approach to the long-sought after sex selection quest. In due course, Dr. Shettles published his breakthrough findings in the prestigious international scientific journal Natur. These findings were, in turn, reported upon in The New York Times and many other publications worldwide. 

Many more publications related to this work followed, and some other researchers confirmed various aspects of the research. All of these studies are discussed in detail in Dr. Shettles’s subsequent book, How to Choose the Sex of Your Baby: The Method Best Supported by Scientific Evidence. The methodology for significantly increasing chances of achieving the desired gender is also spelled out in detail in this book.  The method’s success, apart from independent scientific validation, is attested to by the fact that the book has now been in continuous press for five decades—a full 50 years! That doesn’t happen without a satisfied audience and strong word of mouth recommendations year after year. The percentage of non-reference books that stay in print 50 years is minuscule. The book has been discussed on major television talk shows for decades and featured on the covers and in the pages of major women’s magazines.  

These days, the book is sold primarily online, particularly through, where you can find scores of testimonials from mostly satisfied — and occasionally dissatisfied — prospective parents.  Dr. Shettles never claimed that the Method has a 100 per cent success rate, but his own studies and a survey of those using the Method over a period of decades indicate that the success rate, when the Method is properly followed, exceeds 70 per cent and can approach 90 per cent. 

Some continue to dispute the validity of the Method but do not produce credible evidence in support of that dispute.  Dr. Shettles, in his long career, was often well ahead of his time.  His discoveries and findings in other areas of study were also sometimes questioned by those perhaps startled that he had arrived at mutually sought.

Shettles Method Effectiveness

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Dr. Shettles' Track Record

Though the Shettles method remains “theory” and is disputed by some, you should be aware that Dr. Shettles has a formidable record for being both ahead of his time and right. He and Dr. John Rock of Harvard were the first to fertilize human eggs in vitro, launching what is today a revolution in fertility research. But it took literally decades for other researchers to follow up on their pioneering work. In the 1960s, Dr. Shettles discovered a method of obtaining fetal cells that could be used to assess fetal health and rescue distressed pregnancies, detect defects, and so on. Other researchers said they could not duplicate his research or simply ignored it—despite its enormous implications. Finally, researchers in mainland China reported they had duplicated the work, and this was then followed up on by researchers in Indiana, who finally realized the full import of the development and credited Dr. Shettles with its discovery.

Today this technique (called chorionic villi sampling) has partially supplanted the more dangerous amniocentesis as a method of monitoring fetal health—and, unlike amniocentesis, it can be used from the very earliest stages of pregnancy with minimal invasion.

Then, in 1979, Dr. Shettles reported on another technique he had developed by which a fertilized egg could be surgically transferred directly into a woman’s fallopian tube to achieve pregnancies that could otherwise not occur, owing to various infertility problems. At first, this technique, which has come to be known as gamete intrafallopian transfer, or GIFT—and it truly is a gift to many of the infertile—also was ignored and no credit was given. But GIFT rapidly became one of the crown jewels in the armamentarium of infertility research and treatment and is today regarded as one of the most important developments in that field in the twentieth century.

Finally, in 1991, in an editorial in the Journal of in Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfer, Dr. Shettles was given long-overdue credit and hailed as the father of GIFT. The editorial concluded: In the case of GIFT a scan of the medical literature of the past 15 years clearly shows that L. B. Shettles should be credited with the introduction of the concept of transferring gametes into the fallopian tubes as a means of achieving a pregnancy. Frederick P. Zuspan, editor of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, in his letter to Shettles notifying him of the acceptance for publication of his landmark paper, stated the need for its publication “as soon as possible as it opens new avenues for therapy.”

Dr. Shettles, who was once described by Omni magazine as “one of the twentieth century’s titans in the field of female infertility,” is delighted that he’s still challenging orthodoxy right into the twenty-first century.

The Shettles Method: What it is and does it work? How To Choose The Sex Of Your Baby: The Method That Has Stood The Test of Time and Is Best Supported By The Scientific Evidence


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