For thousands of years, men and women have wanted to control the sex of their babies. Just like there were weird ways to test for pregnancy, there were all kinds of ways to determine the gender of a baby during pregnancy. Kings like Henry VIII wanted sons to ensure their royal lineage, and merchants wanted to avoid too many daughters so they didn't go broke because of rising dowry costs. Not surprisingly, most of these crazy theories about determining gender were about having a boy.
These methods for how to know the gender of the baby during pregnancy at home used a lot of common objects: bananas, parsley, and bread, for example. But some of the ways people tried to determine gender were pretty crazy, like eating rabbits' unmentionables or even chopping off a man’s right nad.
All of these home remedies to know the gender of a baby required dedication, from rubbing a woman with goose grease to testing the winds before conception. Some even advised getting it on right before a woman’s period.
Start Looking For A Hare To Pulverize If You Want A Boy
The Trotula, a 12th-century medical text, had some interesting advice for women who want to conceive a male child. “Let her husband take the womb and the vagina of a hare and let him dry them, and let him mix the powder with wine and drink it.”
But before you start stalking rabbits, keep reading. “Let the woman do the same thing with the testicles of a hare, and at the end of her period let her lie with her husband and then she will conceive a male.” This advice is clearly only for people who are really serious about having a son.
The Ancient Romans Suggested Tying Up The Family Jewels
Pliny the Elder reported in his Natural History that tying up one testicle can determine the sex of an animal’s offspring. The method was guaranteed with sheep, Pliny promised. “If a ligature is put on the right testicle [the ram] gets females and if on the left, males.” Others pointed out that the same held true for cattle.
Pliny was silent on whether the same technique applied to humans, but it’s pretty much guaranteed that some Roman tried.
The Ancient Greeks Said It’s All About Aiming Your Man Juice
Two Greek authorities, Anaxagoras and Parmenides, argued that sex is determined by how men aim during sex. “The seed of the man is naturally cast from his right side into the right side of the womb, or from the left side of the man into the left side of the womb.” If a man aimed according to this law of nature, a boy would result.
However, “when there is an alteration in this course of nature, females are generated.” If a man really wants a son, it’s all up to his aim, say the Greeks.
Hide A Spoon Under The Bed If You Want A Girl
Most theories about choosing a baby’s sex aim for boys. Throughout much of history, boys were considered more desirable than girls, and they were seen as necessary for the continuation of the royal line. Henry VIII sent Anne Boleyn to the chopping block after she had a daughter – even though the baby went on to become Queen Elizabeth I, one of England's greatest monarchs.
But some theories also promote female babies. A woman who wants a daughter should stash a spoon under the bed, but not just any spoon: it has to be wooden. To increase your chances of a girl, you should also put a pink ribbon under the pillow. Perhaps some warring couples checked under the bed before sex to make sure the spoon wouldn't give them the wrong baby.