- With Mayo Clinic obstetrician and medical editor-in-chief
Roger W. Harms, M.D.read biographyclose window
Roger W. Harms, M.D.Roger W. Harms, M.D.
"Nothing helps people stay healthy more than the power of real knowledge about health." — Dr. Roger Harms
As medical director of content, Dr. Roger Harms is excited about the potential for Mayo Clinic's health information site to help educate people about their health and provide them the tools and information to live healthier lives.
The Auburn, Neb., native has been with Mayo Clinic since 1981 and is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Harms is a practicing physician and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and his specialty areas include office gynecology, high-risk obstetrics and obstetrical ultrasound.
From 2002 to 2007, Dr. Harms was director for education at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dr. Harms was the 1988 Mayo Medical School Teacher of the Year and served as associate dean for student affairs and academic affairs. He is the co-author of the "Mayo Clinic Model of Education." In 2008, Dr. Harms was presented the Distinguished Educator Award, Mayo Clinic, Rochester.
Dr. Harms is vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and medical editor of the Pregnancy section on this website. In addition, Dr. Harms is editor-in-chief of the "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy" book, a month-by-month guide to everything a woman needs to know about having a baby.
"My medical education experience has grown out of a love of teaching, and that is what this site is about," Dr. Harms says. "If any visitor to this site makes a more informed and thus more comfortable decision about his or her health because of the information we provide, we are successful."
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- see all in Fertility
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- Birth control pills: Harmful in early pregnancy?
Baby's sex: Can parents choose?
Is there any way to influence a baby's sex?
from Roger W. Harms, M.D.
The short answer is no — there's not much the average couple can do to affect a baby's sex.
In one study, women who ate breakfast cereal daily around the time of conception were more likely to conceive boys — but some scientists question the study's method of analysis. In addition, countless old wives' tales suggest that everything from a woman's diet to sexual position during conception can affect a baby's sex, but these theories remain unproved. Likewise, researchers have found that timing sex in relation to ovulation — such as having sex days before ovulation to conceive a boy or closer to ovulation to conceive a girl — doesn't work.
Rarely, couples face the agonizing problem of knowing they could pass a genetic trait to a child of a specific sex — usually a boy. Under those special circumstances couples may use high-tech interventions to influence the chance of conceiving a girl. For example:
- Preimplantation genetic diagnosis. With this technique — which is used in combination with in vitro fertilization — embryos are tested for specific genetic conditions and sex before they're placed in a woman's uterus.
- Sperm sorting. Various sperm-sorting techniques — which require artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization — can be used to reduce the likelihood of passing on a genetic condition, as well as select a child's sex.
Despite the feasibility of these techniques, they're rarely used when choosing a baby's sex for personal reasons is the only motivation.Next question
Ovulation signs: When is conception most likely?
- Mathews F, et al. You are what your mother eats: Evidence for maternal preconception diet influencing foetal sex in humans. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 2008;275:1661.
- Young SS, et al. Cereal induced gender selection? Most likely a multiple testing false positive. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 2009;276:1211.
- Kalfoglou AL, et al. Attitudes about preconception sex selection: A focus group study with Americans. Human Reproduction. 2008;23:2731.
- Committee on Ethics. Sex selection. Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2007;109:475.
- Wilcox AJ, et al. Timing of sexual intercourse in relation to ovulation: Effects on the probability of conception, survival of the pregnancy, and sex of the baby. The New England Journal of Medicine. 1995;333:1517.
- Practice Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Optimizing natural fertility. Fertility and Sterility. 2008;90:S1.
- Harms RW (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Jan. 4, 2011.