You want to know. You need to know. Is it a boy or a girl?

This question ignites a curiosity that can make selecting the perfect paint color for the nursery feel like another red light when you’re already late.

Studies reveal that 75 to 81 percent of women wish to know the sex of their unborn baby. Even those who’ve mastered the art of looking away during the telltale ultrasound in favor of waiting until birth to discover baby’s sex generally have a prediction that’s based on feelings, intuition, or dreams.

Common gender revealing tests range from the trustworthy to the truly questionable and include ultrasounds, blood tests, folkloric philosophies, fetal heart rate, the Chinese calendar chart, mom’s nipple color, baking soda, over-the-counter predictors, and — here it comes — the ring gender test.

The ring gender test is one of the many ways people have tried to predict the sex of their unborn baby. What makes this test somewhat unique is that one version also claims to be able to predict the number and sex of all your future children.

The ring gender test can be performed in two ways, both of which involve threading a string through a ring.

There are two versions of the test. Both use the same elements:

  • a ring (generally mom’s wedding ring, or another ring of comparable importance)
  • a string or strand of hair
  • a participant who may or may not be pregnant

Version one: above the pregnant person’s belly

Lie on your back and have your partner, family member, or friend hang the threaded ring above your belly.

Wait for it to move on its own. The idea is that it should either swing back and forth in a straight line (boy) or a circle (girl).

Version two: above the participant’s left hand

This version is also supposed to let you know how many children you will have, and it can be done on a pregnant or non-pregnant person.

Place your left hand on a flat surface. Holding the threaded ring above your left hand, bring the ring to rest on top of your hand.

Then, lift it and gently swing the ring between each of your fingers, tracing your hand as you would when making a turkey hand, from your pinky to your thumb. Immediately trace backward, thumb to pinky, ending where you began and holding it above the center of your hand.

The ring should begin swinging either back and forth in a straight line (boy), or in a circle (girl). This is the sex of your first-born child.

Once your first-born’s sex is revealed, bring the ring to rest on top of your hand again. Then repeat the tracing process!

If the ring swings in a line or a circle, this is the sex of your second child.

Continue repeating the test until the ring comes to a dead stop. This means the test is complete, and there are no more future babies to predict.

Many people will happily proclaim this test to be accurate. They’ll tell you that repeating this test has yielded the exact same predictions. There are plenty of people who truly think it’s Harry-Potter-style magic.

All divination aside, let’s get down to the facts.

The truth is that old wives’ tales meant to predict your baby’s sex are no more reliable than simply guessing. No evidence suggests that the ring gender test is anything more than an amusing game.

As previously mentioned, there are multiple things people have done to predict the gender of their baby.

Some look to fetal heart rate (more than 140 bpm means it’s a girl; less than 140 bpm means it’s a boy), and others believe the shape or size of their belly can foretell baby’s sex. While these can be a source of entertainment, there’s no evidence that they accurately predict anything.

Interestingly, an older study from 2001 found that pregnant women with more than 12 years of education are correct in their gender predictions about 71 percent of the time, while those with fewer years of schooling are only about 43 percent correct.

The study observed that women who based their predictions on feelings, dreams, and intuition had a higher rate of accuracy than women performing tests based on an old wives’ tale.

What’s more, one study in 411 women found that women correctly predicted the gender of their babies about 51 percent of the time, like the flip of a coin.

On the other hand, medical testing, including chronic villus sampling (CVS), non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), amniocentesis, and ultrasounds, can provide information about the sex of your unborn child.

These tests are typically meant for other purposes, such as determining whether your baby has markers for Down syndrome, diagnosing fetal location, and identifying fetal developmental concerns, but it just so happens that they also reveal baby’s sex.

While there’s no evidence that the ring gender test works, it doesn’t hurt to pluck a strand of hair from your head, thread a ring, and dream. No matter what the result of this “test” shows, you’ll get to meet your future child and know for sure soon enough.

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