Did God design a woman’s body to bear children she's uniquely suited to raise and nurture? Some new data says maybe ...
Have you ever met an “all-of-a-kind family” or one where the parents have mostly sons, or mostly daughters? Off the top of my head, I can name seven different families with far more girls than boys, or visa versa. Come to think of it, I don’t actually know many families with an equal number of boys and girls. So although people say that every woman has an equal chance of conceiving a boy as a girl, I seem to know a whole lot of people who are beating the odds, big time.
Of course that’s just anecdotal evidence, but what if certain women are actually more likely to have children of one gender than the other? That’s what Dr. Valerie Grant, a reproductive scientist, has hypothesized in a series of studies. The implications are pretty exciting, but first let’s talk about how it might work…
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We’ve always assumed that since the sperm, which fertilizes the egg, carries the necessary chromosome to determine gender, the mother’s body doesn’t have a say. But Grant suggests that the woman’s egg is sometimes predisposed to only allow fertilization by a sperm bearing its preferred chromosome. The reason for that predisposition has to do with the mother’s unique personality and the experiences she’s had.
Let’s talk about testosterone. We tend to associate the hormone with men’s locker rooms, but women produce it as well, albeit about 1/10th of the amount that men make. In women, higher than average testosterone levels are tied to what Grant callsdominant traits, defined as “acting overtly so as to change the views or actions of another,” as opposed to a more passive or responsive approach.
Before we go any further, please don’t associate dominant traits with anything negative, or even anything intrinsically masculine. Like introversion or extroversion, dominance is just a personality type that anyone can have.
Anyway, Grant found out that she could predict the gender of not-yet-pregnant women’s future child with 80 percent accuracy, just by asking them to describe themselves. Woman who used eight or more adjectives associated with dominance, such as “powerful, controlling, [or] masterful,”out of 64 total were more likely to have sons, and women who chose less than three of those words would almost always go on to have daughters.
As she researched further, she discovered that in animal studies, when the follicular fluid — the environment in which the egg matures before fertilization — had high levels of testosterone, the mother would conceive a boy. If the levels were lower, she’d have a girl.
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Let me break this all down for you. Grant’s finding suggest that a) Women who have dominant personality traits tend to have higher testosterone; and b) Women with higher testosterone tend to have sons. Lower dominance and testosterone levels tend to be followed by daughters.
Okay, just one more thing. A woman’s testosterone levels are not just determined by genetics. They’re also influenced by time of the month, age of the woman, environmental factors, life events, and much more. So from one day to another, these levels are in constant flux. But when many of these factors coincide, the hormone level might rise to the point where it would influence the sex preference of her egg.
What does this all mean, then? Grant concludes that “it is far more likely that females conceive infants of the sex they are most suited to raise.” Which is actually a beautiful thing, when you think about it. The data may suggest that God has built a system which inclines a woman’s body to bear children she is uniquely suited to raise and nurture. Boys, who have naturally high testosterone levels, respond positively to a mother whose levels are higher as well, and the same goes for girls.
So if you have a gaggle of girls, or a hoard of boys, it might not be a coincidence. It might be because your body knew exactly which gender you would be best suited to raising at that particular time in your life. So give yourself a pat on the back. Your personality is just what those kids need!