Some say that depositing the sperm closer to the cervix gives Y chromosome-carrying sperm a better chance to reach the egg first. Another urges would-be moms to eat a more acidic diet if they want to have a girl. Much of the advice focuses on how to give sperm carrying either an X or Y chromosome some sort of advantage, but for the most part, none of it has been validated by science. Alireza Fazeli , a reproductive biologist at the University of Sheffield in the U. Taking advantage of the large, long oviducts of pigs, the researchers injected X chromosome-carrying sperm into one oviduct of a female pig and Y chromosome-carrying sperm into the other oviduct using laparoscopic surgery.
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Scientists think this may be a way females unconsciously influence the sex of their offspring. The findings, reported in the open access journal BMC Genomics , show that different genes are active in female pigs' reproductive system cells in experimental conditions when all X female or all Y male sperm are present. Although in nature the ratio would normally be , this suggests females might be able to change the environment of the oviduct to favor one sex over the other, giving that sperm a better chance of winning the race to the egg. Studies of humans and animals have shown that the sex ratio of offspring can be affected by factors such as the age of the mother, or environmental factors like famines and wars. How and when this happens is unclear. The international research team from the University of Sheffield and University of Murcia wanted to discover if the sex ratio is influenced in the early stages, before the sperm have even fertilised the egg.
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View research View latest news Sign up for updates. Female pigs' reproductive systems recognize whether a sperm will produce a boy or a girl before it reaches and fertilizes the egg, and their oviducts fallopian tubes change in response. Scientists think this may be a way females unconsciously influence the sex of their offspring.