Does Mucinex D Help You Get Pregnant?

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

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 seeing in those videos that pop up in your group chat. Case in point: This TikTok video claimed that taking Mucinex (guaifenesin)—yes, the cough medicine—can help you get pregnant.

And on fact-checking: it is important to remember that you should consult your healthcare provider before taking Mucinex during pregnancy. Cough medicines—like Mucinex—sometimes contain alcohol, which you should avoid while pregnant.

Nevertheless, the creator of the TikTok video, Julia Schuller, explained that while Mucinex helped her feel better while she had COVID-19, it also "helped" with some other things.

"It helps you get pregnant," Schueller whispered to the camera.

So, can Mucinex actually boost your fertility? Here's what you should know about the science behind the viral TikTok trend that claims to increase your chances of getting pregnant.

What Is Mucinex?

Mucinex is a brand of cough medicine available in liquid syrups, oral capsules, and immediate- or extended-release tablets, among other forms. It is an expectorant, per the National Library of Medicine. Expectorants are a type of medicine that clear the phlegm in your air passages by thinning it out.

People often take Mucinex if they are experiencing symptoms of the common cold or the flu. You can either take Mucinex on its own or combined with decongestants, called Mucinex D (guaifenesin and pseudoephedrine), or cough suppressants, called Mucinex DM (guaifenesin and dextromethorphan).

Why Do Some People Believe Mucinex Can Boost Their Fertility?

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," noted Schuller. "I was like, 'What's going on?'"

That 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'," explained Schuller. Cue: Loads of women in the comments section of her viral video to either claim they're going out to buy Mucinex immediately or avoiding it at all costs.

It turns out that the idea comes from the way Mucinex thins out the phlegm in your air passages when you have a common cold or the flu. Like the mucus in your air passages, your cervix also produces a type of mucus that is essential to becoming pregnant.

According to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library, if your cervical mucus is too thick, it may be difficult for sperm to reach and fertilize the egg during conception. Thick cervical mucus also makes it hard for a fertilized egg to travel to the uterus and attach itself to the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus (which is called the endometrium).

So, Can Mucinex Help You Get Pregnant?

So, if Mucinex can thin out the mucus in your air passages, can it also thin out your cervical mucus to boost your chances of getting pregnant? Unfortunately, the answer is not quite as clear-cut as the TikTok video might lead you to believe.

"While guaifenesin [the generic name for 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 clinic in Los Altos, Calif., told Health.

"The theory for women is that Mucinex 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," explained Dr. Westphal.

BuzzFeed, which also reported on the TikTok video, spoke to Natalie Crawford, MD, a board-certified OB-GYN, who echoed Dr. Westphal's claim. Dr. Crawford shared that experts cannot positively know whether Mucinex has a significant impact on fertility. However, for some people whose doctors have told them it can't hurt to try the cough medicine, there's not necessarily a downside.

"That being said, it has a hypothetical mechanism of action that makes sense with very few risks—and it is inexpensive! There is probably a small subset of people who may have improved natural fertility rates by taking an expectorant, like Mucinex," Dr. Crawford told Buzzfeed.

The bottom line: There have been no recent studies that have demonstrated any statistical significance regarding the effects of Mucinex on cervical mucus, but it could possibly have some effect on your chances of becoming pregnant.

On the other hand, in one study published in 2010 in the International Journal of General Medicine, researchers found that people may be able to increase their sperm count or improve their sperm mobility by taking Mucinex. But that study only examined one person, so larger sample sizes are necessary to demonstrate the significance of that observation.

Are There Risks of Taking Mucinex?

It's important to remember that while Mucinex does not largely create any major side effects, it may cause headaches, nausea, and vomiting, per the National Library of Medicine. You should consult your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms of an allergic reaction, like difficulty breathing.

It may also be beneficial to speak to your healthcare provider about taking Mucinex if you are trying to become pregnant or may be pregnant. Some cough medicines, like Mucinex, contain alcohol, which you should avoid during pregnancy.

Safe Ways To Increase Your Fertility

Even if participating in the TikTok trend is not a foolproof way of becoming pregnant, the National Library of Medicine provides some steps that you can take to boost your fertility:

  • Eliminate cigarettes and alcohol. Smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol can not only make it difficult to become pregnant but also increases your chances of miscarriage if you are pregnant. Alcohol can cause damage to the fetus during development and lead to fetal alcohol syndrome—symptoms of which include physical and intellectual disabilities—during childhood.
  • Limit caffeine. If you're trying to get pregnant, it may be helpful to limit your daily cups of coffee or cans of soda. More than 500 milliliters of coffee or two liters of soda per day can make it difficult to conceive.
  • Eat healthily. Consuming enough vitamins and nutrients, like protein, iron, and vitamin C, can help promote menstrual regularity, which helps improve your fertility. Too low or too high body weight also contributes to menstrual irregularity by lengthening or shortening your cycles, which may make it difficult to track your ovulation dates.
  • Relax. Stress can cause obstacles while trying to become pregnant. Find some activities that reduce stress and help you calm down if you're worried about conceiving.

All in all, no matter what the health advice—even if it seems fairly innocent—it's probably best to talk to your healthcare provider before following advice from TikTok.

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