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Women are taking Mucinex and other cold medicines to get pregnant. Does it work?

Some on social media say Mucinex is “magic” for infertility.
Some on social media say Mucinex is “magic” for infertility. (Getty Images)

Trying to get pregnant can be a frustrating reminder that some things in life are out of your control. If you've been trying to conceive without success, it's understandable to turn to the internet to see if there's anything you can do differently. Well, TikTok just resurfaced a hack that's been swirling around for years: taking Mucinex. The social media platform is flooded with posts from women who say they took the over-the-counter decongestant when they were ovulating and got pregnant.

Love Is Blind's Alexa Lemieux recently went viral after sharing on TikTok that she went through two unsuccessful rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI) — an infertility treatment where sperm is placed directly into the uterus — before trying the Mucinex hack. “During my ovulation, I took Mucinex and a few weeks later found out that I was pregnant,” she said. Several people in the comments shared that they have a “Mucinex baby.”

“I’m a PCOS girlie that was told I’d never get pregnant. I took Mucinex and BAM my miracle baby was made,” one wrote. Another commented: “My Mucinex baby is almost two after eight years of trying + three IUIs.”

According to TikTok, Mucinex is “magic” for infertility. But is this for real? Ob-gyns weigh in.

First, what's in Mucinex?

Mucinex is the brand name for guaifenesin, which is an expectorant that thins mucus. It's designed to relieve chest congestion and cough, according to the Mucinex website. (Some women trying to conceive have tried Robitussin, which also contains guaifenesin, as well as the cough suppressant dextromethorphan HBr.)

There are several types of Mucinex on the market, but many people — including Lemieux — say they used Mucinex DM to conceive.

Can Mucinex help you get pregnant?

This pregnancy hack has been around for decades, Dr. Lauren Streicher, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and author of Sex Rx, tells Yahoo Life. “The idea is that it loosens the cervical mucus, which means that it will be easier for the sperm to get through,” she explains.

But while Streicher says that “people have been doing this forever,” using Mucinex as a fertility treatment hasn't been studied well enough for most doctors to recommend it. Dr. Christine Greves, an ob-gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, agrees. “There are no randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials on this, and those are considered the gold standard in medicine,” she tells Yahoo Life. “There is a theory that if it thins out one type of mucus, maybe it could thin the cervical mucus, but it hasn't necessarily been proven.”

There is a 2011 case study on using guaifenesin to increase sperm motility in a 32-year-old man, but most people who take Mucinex to try to get pregnant are women, not men.

Greves also points out that there are a lot of factors that go into conceiving. “It's not just the cervical mucus that's needed to achieve pregnancy,” she says. “It's also the sperm, are you ovulating and does everything match up well.”

Reckitt, which makes Mucinex, is “aware” of women using the OTC medicine to conceive, company spokesperson Bhagat Banwait tells Yahoo Life “This constitutes off-label use,” Bainwait says. “As a global leader in health and hygiene, we wish to clarify that Mucinex should only be used as intended and in line with usage instructions. In case of doubt, we recommend a discussion with a health care professional. Please always read the label and safety information before taking any self-care medication.”

Still, taking Mucinex to conceive when you're ovulating “is not dangerous and will not cause harm,” women’s health expert Dr. Jessica Shepherd, an ob-gyn in Texas, tells Yahoo Life. Streicher agrees there isn't anything wrong with trying this hack. “I don't think there's any harm to trying it, other than wasting time,” she says. That said, Streicher points out that “if someone has undetected fertility issues, you don't want them messing around taking Mucinex for a year before seeking help, only to find out she's not ovulating and he has no sperm.”

Taking Mucinex while pregnant isn't recommended

While experts say there's no harm in taking Mucinex when you're ovulating, the medication is not considered safe to use when you're already pregnant. A BMJ study of mothers of more than 27,000 children found a link between guaifenesin use during pregnancy and a higher risk of birth defects.

Guaifenesin is classified as being in risk category C for pregnancy by the Food and Drug Administration, which means animal studies have shown there is a risk to the fetus, but there are no well-controlled studies in humans. “We do not usually recommend taking guaifenesin during pregnancy,” Greves says.

What to do if you're having trouble conceiving

Doctors generally recommend that you try to conceive for a year if you're under 35 years old or for six months if you're 35 or older before seeking medical care for infertility. Then, your doctors will typically do a “complete workup to determine the cause of infertility,” Shepherd says. That can include blood work, ultrasounds of the uterus and fallopian tubes and an analysis of your partner's sperm.

From there, your health care provider might suggest fertility treatments like IUI or in vitro fertilization (IVF), although Shepherd says it's important to get an evaluation first to find out what next steps will be best for you. But if you've only been trying to conceive for a few months and are curious about whether Mucinex will help, Streicher says it's fine to try the hack.