Which of the parents determines the gender of the baby?

A man and his pregnant wife

Society has placed a burden on couples, especially women, during family planning. Before civilisation, a man was judged by not only his wealth and farmlands but by the gender of his children; such mentality is yet to change even at the peak of human civilisation.

The African culture has always viewed one sex as superior to the other. Some culture also considers one gender as an indirect source of income for the family.

Women are perceived as more emotional than men; thus, there is a common belief in Africa that women will always cater to their parents' needs when they are aged. Another African tradition stipulates that only men are eligible for inheritance in families.

The above has made gender determination a hot topic in family planning. Many pregnant couples ask the same question when given an opportunity with a medical expert, "Are we having a boy or a girl?"

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) has given many infertile couples hope of bringing a new life into the world. In vitro fertilisation is a process of fertilisation where an egg is combined with sperm outside the body, and the embryo (baby), which is formed from this fusion, is implanted into the woman's uterus.

Most IVF cases allow couples to choose the gender of their future baby, but it is costly and cannot be afforded by many.

Gender selection using IVF is also restricted in many countries due to potential discrimination towards one gender. In addition, some couples are against IVF with ethics and religion.

Introduction to genetics

The level of literacy has surprisingly increased in recent times, but society still views women as the determiner of gender during fertilisation. As a result, it has driven men to marry many wives in a quest to get the gender they so crave.

In humans, genetics refers to the traits or characters we inherit from our parents. They could be the facial resemblance, eye colour or most importantly, gender. 

Many people don't know that the male's gene is what determines the gender of the baby. It all starts from the chromosome.

Photo by Sangharsh Lohakare on Unsplash

These traits are manifested genetically in the form of  DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and chromosomes. For example, the chromosomes responsible for gender are sex-linked chromosomes of X and Y.

Women have a combination of XX while men are XY; thus, when a man ejaculates his sperm into the woman's vagina, he donates a combination of X and Y chromosomes individually, each competing to reach the woman's egg or ova on time.

The problem lies with the fact that two sperm cells cannot fertilise one egg at a time. Once an egg is fertilised, it produces an outer covering or an outer layer that prevents further fertilisation from the surrounding sperm cells. 

How egg fertilisation occurs

Human fertilisation is the fusion of a sperm cell and an ovum in the ampulla of the fallopian tube to form a zygote or a fertilised egg. This naturally occurs after ejaculation or during copulation.

From the definition of genetics above, it is clear to state that when a man ejaculates, he releases both the X and Y sperm cells while the woman has only two X sperm cells which are the same.

The implication of this is that the woman will conceive a boy only when the  Y sperm cell fertilises the egg first, or she can conceive a girl if the X sperm cells fertilise the egg first.  


Having boys or girls should not make a difference or change the way you view your spouse. You can always seek medical advice and enquire about IVF if needed. It has saved many marriages both in Africa and beyond. IVF has almost 100% accuracy.

Finally, it is also paramount that you do not neglect your children because they are not your desired gender, society is growing, and many traditions are going extinct. It would be best if you certainly did not let gossip or shame lead you to reject your child.

They are yours and belong only to you.