How Reliable Are Gender Ultrasounds

Delving into the science of fetal gender determination, it’s essential to consider the reliability of gender ultrasounds and how medical professionals employ these techniques for accurate results.

Although ultrasounds are primarily used to check on the fetus’s well-being, they also have the added bonus of thrilling some parents by revealing the gender of their unborn child. But how exactly do ultrasounds determine a baby’s gender, and how reliable are they in general? We discussed your concerns with recognized authorities and compiled their responses below.

What Is a Gender Ultrasound?

Ultrasounds during pregnancy are not performed for the sole purpose of determining the sex of the unborn child. Instead, during a regular anatomy scan performed between weeks 18 and 22, medical professionals will observe your baby’s genitalia.

Some parents prefer to find out the gender of their child as late in the pregnancy as possible, while others prefer to wait until the baby is born. Pregnancy ultrasounds are a safe, non-invasive option for getting an accurate diagnosis.

Though often known as “gender ultrasounds,” these scans really assess your baby’s anatomy and development. Technicians routinely inspect the genitalia to check for abnormalities, but they are not obligated to inform the parents of their child’s sex. If there is a problem, the doctor can be as forthcoming or discreet as the parents.

Ultrasound Procedure: What to Expect

The ultrasound technician will apply gel to your tummy as you lie on the exam table. Then, a plastic transducer that produces ultrasonic waves will be slid over it. An ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image of your child’s internal organs and fatty tissue.

Penn Medicine states that during an anatomy scan, a doctor will examine the fetus in great detail, from head to toe.

  • They are about the estimated length and weight.
  • Focus on the lips and palate in particular while describing their face.
  • Their brain
  • Their heart
  • Their kidneys
  • Their spine
  • Their limbs

A trained professional will also evaluate the placenta’s condition. In addition, technicians will examine your child’s privates. You (and anyone else who wants to watch) can watch the image appear on a screen.

Since neither X-rays nor radiation is used in clinical ultrasounds, the FDA has deemed them to be a safe medical procedure when performed by a qualified technician. Even though the gel may be cold and sticky, the exam itself is painless.

Prediction Rates for Boys and Girls Using Ultrasound

Ultrasounds, especially in the second and third trimesters, can accurately determine if a fetus has a penis or a vulva. After 14 weeks of pregnancy, ultrasound technologists had a near 100% success rate in determining the sex of an unborn child, according to a study published in 2015. Ultrasound technicians were only right around 75% of the time when making sex predictions for a fetus in the first trimester (between 11 and 14 weeks in the research).

The same thing was found in a study from 2008 that was published in the peer-reviewed magazine Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica: Researchers found that the chance of correctly identifying the gender of a fetus, when that was possible, went up with the gestational age, from 71.9% at 11 weeks to 92% at 12 weeks to 98.3% at 13 weeks, when the gestational age was calculated from the crown-rump length and the date of the last menstrual period or ovulation.

Most ultrasounds are performed between 18 and 22 weeks, and the technician will usually discuss their findings unless you ask them not to. But the accuracy of your test results will depend on a number of things, such as when you have it, where your baby is, how big you are, and whether or not you are carrying more than one baby.


So-called gender ultrasounds have a wide range of accuracy, especially in the early stages of pregnancy. Dr. Bart Putterman, an OB-GYN at Houston’s Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, adds, “The accuracy of the ultrasounds increases as gestational age advances.” The fetus’ genitals are more developed and easier to see in the second trimester, so waiting until then improves the chances of receiving an accurate reading.

Your baby’s position.

Your sonographer’s ability to detect your baby’s sex may be compromised if they are unable to see clearly between your baby’s legs due to their positioning. Sonographers can make mistakes in guessing the gender based on a less-than-ideal examination if the gender characteristics are not clearly portrayed.

Your body size.

OB-GYN and author of Expecting 411: An Insider’s Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth Michele Hakakha, M.D., believes it is more difficult to determine a fetus’ sex on ultrasound if the mother’s body mass index is higher. A seasoned ultrasound technician, however, ought to have no trouble getting a good look at patients of any size.

Multiple birth pregnancy

Babies in multiple pregnancy may try to conceal their siblings, making it more difficult to determine the sex of each individual child.

When Is It Appropriate to Get a Gender Ultrasound?

The gender of an unborn child can’t always be determined by an ultrasound in the early stages of pregnancy. Ultrasound can detect the fetus’s sex as early as 12 weeks into the pregnancy, however it can be challenging even at that point. About 13 weeks into pregnancy, the vulva or penis and scrotum become visibly exposed.

A more definitive answer may be available at a later ultrasound, such as your 20-week anatomy exam.

A blood test called non-invasive prenatal screening (NIPT) can check for genetic abnormalities like Down syndrome, trisomy 18, and trisomy 13 without putting the unborn child through any kind of discomfort. Chromosome analysis can also be used to establish gender. Although some patients’ insurance may cover it, most businesses are willing to negotiate a reasonable out-of-pocket payment that is on pace with, if not lower than, that of “for fun” ultrasound places. NIPT is safe to do after the 10th week of pregnancy.


While it’s thrilling to find out what gender your kid will be, you should be aware that these predictions aren’t always precise or thorough. Technicians can and do make mistakes from time to time. Another possibility is that your child’s gender identity does not coincide with the sex they were assigned at birth. Therefore, it is vital to maintain an unbiased perspective.

Meaningful articles you might like: What Exactly Is A 3D Ultrasound?, What To Expect About Ultrasound Fees, What It Was Like Coping with Fetal Growth Restriction