The evidence here is mainly anecdotal—like the claim in a new viral TikTok.

By Maggie O'Neill
December 17, 2020
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TikTok is a great place to go for life hacks—both health-related and otherwise—but since viral content on the platform isn’t fact-checked, it’s always good to double-check what you’re hearing in those TikTok videos that pop up in your group chat. Case in point: This TikTok that claims that taking Mucinex—yes, the cough medicine—can help you get pregnant.

The creator of the TikTok, @juliasendojourney, whose real name is Julia Schuller, explained in her video that while Mucinex D helped her feel better while she had COVID-19, it also "helped" with some other things. "It helps you get pregnant," she whispered to the camera.

Schuller explained it this way: "I've been tracking my fertile signs because I have endometriosis and PCOS [polycystic ovary syndrome]," she said. After taking Mucinex-D she noticed that she was more fertile (though she didn't divulge what type of tracking device she used to know that). "After I started taking the Mucinex D, my fertile signs went way up," she explained, adding, "I was like, 'What's going on?'"

This led her to question her doctor about what could be causing the increased fertility, which is how she came to believe that taking Mucinex could increase her chances of becoming pregnant. "[The doctor] was like, 'We actually give Mucinex to women to help increase their fertility.'" Cue: Loads of women in the comments section of her viral video—it's garnered 1.1 million likes and 8.6 million views—to either claim they're going out to buy Mucinex immediately, or avoiding it at all costs.

So what's the deal with Mucinex and fertility? Unfortunately, the answer isn’t quite as clear-cut as the Tok might have led you to believe. “While Guaifenesin [the generic of Mucinex] has been discussed for years as a possible way to improve both male and female fertility, the idea of taking it to help get pregnant is mostly anecdotal. There’s no hard evidence,” Lynn Westphal, MD, the chief medical officer at Kindbody, a fertility center in New York, tells Health.

The reason some people believe taking Mucinex helps with fertility is pretty straightforward. “The theory for women is that Mucinex D may make the cervical mucus thinner, but the mucus at ovulation is usually already thin so it is unlikely to have much of an impact,” Dr. Westphal explains.

BuzzFeed, which also reported on this claim, spoke with Natalie Crawford, MD, a board certified ob-gyn, who echoed Dr. Westphal's claim that we can't say for sure whether Mucinex D has a significant impact on fertility. But for some people whose doctors have told them it can't hurt to take Mucinex D, there's not necessarily a downside, Dr. Crawford told BuzzFeed. "That being said, it has a hypothetical mechanism of action that makes sense with very few risks—and it is inexpensive! There are probably a small subset of people who may have improved natural fertility rates by taking an expectorant, like Mucinex," she told the news outlet.

The bottom line: No matter what the health advice—even if it seems fairly innocent—it’s probably best to talk to your doctor before following advice from TikTok. And, according to MedlinePlus, a resource from the US National Library of Medicine (USNLM), if you are pregnant, hoping to get pregnant, or breastfeeding, you should talk to your doctor about whether or not to take guaifenesin or Mucinex.

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