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The technique involves separating X- and Y-bearing sperm by using laser light, dye, and a machine called a flow cytometer.
Once the sperm are divided, the specimens are inserted back into the woman through artificial means, such as in vitro fertilization.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends neither PGD nor CVS as a sex selection method for couples looking to balance the gender ratio in their families.
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In addition, no preconception approach is foolproof, according to an ethics committee report in the May 2001 issue of Fertility and Sterility.
Some popular strategies reportedly even fall under the category of foolery.
In this case, ethicists worry about the welfare of the child.
Parents desiring a girl, on the other hand, are encouraged to have sex in the missionary position (face to face, man on top) about two to four days before ovulation so that by the time the egg comes, only the heartier, more resilient X sperm will remain in the woman's reproductive tract.
The Shettles method has reportedly been effective at least 75% of the time, with the rate slightly lower for girls than for boys.
"There's no real evidence to show that they work," says Sandra Ann Carson, MD, president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, noting that such techniques are as effective as random sex in producing a baby of the preferred sex. Martin Young, MD, a pediatrician in private practice in Amarillo, Texas, reviewed medical literature on sex determination and found that the Shettles method fared worse than random sex, with a 39% success rate in choosing the sex of your child.
Shettles' ideas seem to make sense, but they're a little too simplistic and not based on scientific research, says Young, who authored two books on the subject.