Jean and Robert Krak, of McMurray, Pennsylvania, were the proud parents of three boys, ages 7, 6, and 2. "We wanted a fourth child, and we wondered if there was any way to slant the odds in favor of having a girl -- to have the experience of raising a daughter," Jean recalls.
An obstetrician gave her instructions for timing fertilization, intercourse positions, and using a douche to increase her chances of having a girl. "He made no promises but said this technique had worked for others," says Jean. "We figured we'd try it, knowing that God still had the ultimate veto power." The family now includes 2-year-old Angela Marie.
Strategies for conceiving a child of a particular sex have been around for centuries. The Talmud, a major book of Jewish law, says that if a wife's orgasm precedes her husband's, the baby will be a boy. In the 13th century, a Chinese scientist created a chart that a woman could use to match her age to the month of the year when she was likely to conceive a boy or girl; some people still think it works (Chinese Astrology).
Age-old advice ranges from the ridiculous (a German folktale suggests placing a wooden spoon under your bed to conceive a girl) to the theoretically plausible (a man drinking coffee 30 minutes before intercourse to increase the speed of boy-producing sperm).
Low-tech methods of conceiving a specific sex are worth a try, but they're hardly guaranteed. "Couples should aim for having a healthy child; then, if they can increase their odds for a child of a particular sex, why not?" says J. Martin Young, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at Texas Tech University Medical School, in Amarillo, and author of How to Have a Girl and How to Have a Boy (Young Ideas Publishing). "As long as they'll be happy regardless of whether they have a boy or a girl, the outcome should be good."