Women are taking cough mixture to boost their fertility and doctors have concerns

Women are taking cough mixture to try to conceive [Photo: Getty]
Women are taking cough mixture to try to conceive [Photo: Getty]

From lying with your legs in the air after sex, to doing it with your socks on, there are plenty of myths surrounding getting pregnant.

But doctors are concerned about the latest old wives tale doing the fertility rounds, which says chugging cough mixture could be the key to conception.

This certain theory has actually been circulating for quite a while but has picked up traction again more recently.

The ‘science’ behind it concerns guaifenesin, one of the common ingredients found in cough syrup.

Way back in 1982 a study revealed guaifenesin to be a potential fertility booster thanks to its ability to thin cervical mucus (in a similar way to it thinning the mucus in your nasal passages).

Experts believed it would therefore allow it to be easier for sperm to travel up to a woman’s eggs.

Sounds good in theory right? Except the study was actually pretty small and only based on anecdotal rather than hard medical evidence.

Cough mixture for conception, a warning

Doctors are pretty concerned about women following the advice and chugging the cough mixture in the hope of improving their chances of conception.

“Guaifenesin is a component of cough medicine; the theory is that it causes water to flow into the bronchus part of the lungs to dilute the mucus and relieve the cough,” explains Ian Currie, consultant gynaecologist at BMI The Chiltern Hospital in Buckinghamshire.

“The follow-on trail of thought is that perhaps this also works on cervical mucus to make better conditions for the sperm to be able to reach the egg.”

But Currie, like many other experts is sceptical.

“There was one study in 1982 but this was with a small sample of people and there are no recommended studies looking at this issue.”

What’s more there are some downsides of taking cough mixture in the hope it improves fertility.

“Assuming for a moment that it does work; we don’t know what dose you would need or how it affects the mucus – you could be having too much or not enough, and there could also be long-term effects with that dose which go far beyond the immediate fertility issue,” he warns.

“There are also risks and side effects (as there are with most medications). I assume that the ladies would be taking it with other medicines, and we don’t know how they react together or therefore what the risks would be, especially if they were experimenting with doses.”

“What’s more for pregnant women, it is clear that guaifenesin crosses the placenta and there have been anecdotal reports of problems with babies where their mum has taken guaifenesin during the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy,” Currie adds.

“There are so many unknowns with this, and no medical evidence that it works. My advice would be not to take it.”

Doctors are concerned about the trend [Photo: Getty]
Doctors are concerned about the trend [Photo: Getty]

Taking cough mixture isn’t the only old wives tale concerning conception and fertility. Last year we revealed that women were using toothpaste as a sort of make-shift pregnancy test.

Despite gaining traction online, LloydsPharmacy Pharmacist Anshu Bhimbat told Yahoo Style UK that the test shouldn’t be taken too seriously as there is no scientific evidence behind it as a method for predicting pregnancy.

“The toothpaste pregnancy test is based on a chemical reaction between the urine’s acidity and the calcium carbonate in toothpaste,” he explains “However, this is not an accurate or scientifically proven way to tell whether someone is pregnant.”

So next time you hear some bonkers baby-making advice, it’s probably best to just laugh it off. And stay away from the cough syrup and toothpaste, unless of course you have a cough, or need to clean your teeth.

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