Is Mucinex Safe During Early Pregnancy

I’m 34 weeks pregnant and feeling like a walking mucus monster. I’m looking for a safe way to clear my airways and feel good again. Can I take Mucinex, or is it dangerous during pregnancy?

There’s no evidence that Mucinex will hurt your unborn baby.

You should know that there’s no evidence that Mucinex will hurt your unborn baby.

The active ingredient in Mucinex is guaifenesin, which thin and loosen mucus in the airways. Guaifenesin is a category C drug, meaning that studies have shown it to be harmful to an unborn baby. However, these studies were performed on animals and not humans; therefore, it’s unclear whether guaifenesin would have a similar effect on humans as it does on animals (or if any effects occur at all).

Most experts agree that you can take regular doses of guaifenesin during pregnancy without risking harm to your child. However, taking high doses of this medication may affect how well your body metabolizes other drugs as they pass through your system while you’re pregnant—so it’s important to talk with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications while pregnant or breastfeeding

The active ingredient in Mucinex is guaifenesin, which thin and loosen mucus in the airways.

  • Guaifenesin is the active ingredient in Mucinex. This is a category C drug, which means that it may cause harm to a developing fetus if taken during pregnancy.
  • Guaifenesin is an expectorant and mucolytic that helps thin and loosen mucus in the airways so you can cough it up more easily.

Guaifenesin is a category C drug.

Guaifenesin is a category C drug. This means that itcan not be recommended for use during pregnancy and may cause fetal harm if used during pregnancy. As a category C drug, guaifenesin is not known to cause birth defects in humans.

Category C means there’s either insufficient animal or human research on how the medication might affect pregnant women and their babies

There are two categories of medications: A and B. If a medication is in category A, it means that all studies have shown no evidence that the medication is harmful to humans. If a medication is in category B, it means there’s either insufficient animal or human research on how the medication might affect pregnant women and their babies.

In this case, Mucinex falls into category C, which means there’s either:

  • Lack of information regarding potential risks to an unborn child
  • Insufficient data from animal or human studies to determine whether or not there could be risk to an unborn child

However, there are some medications doctors recommend avoiding during pregnancy altogether, such as Accutane and aminoglycosides.

However, there are some medications doctors recommend avoiding during pregnancy altogether, such as Accutane and aminoglycosides. You should also avoid taking over-the-counter medications without your doctor’s knowledge. Before taking any medication, it’s critical to talk to your doctor first.

If you have a chronic illness or are pregnant, you may need to take medication. In these cases, do not stop taking any prescription medications on your own without first consulting with a health care provider. Aspirin is safe in low doses when used sparingly during pregnancy but should be avoided in larger doses because it can cause birth defects and miscarriage in fetuses.

Ask your doctor about taking Mucinex for congestion during pregnancy.

Ask your doctor about taking Mucinex for congestion during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, ask your doctor about using Mucinex. If you are pregnant and already taking this medicine, talk to your doctor before stopping it. Your symptoms may get worse without the medicine and could endanger yourself or your child.

If you are taking a medication that contains pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine, ask your pharmacist if there is an alternative that does not contain these ingredients or ask them how much of the drug should be in each dose of cough syrup before using it again

Conclusion

If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor before taking any medications, including Mucinex. The FDA categorizes this medication as a category C drug, meaning there’s not enough research on its effects in pregnancy. Your doctor may recommend other ways to treat congestion during pregnancy.

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, the last thing you want is a cold or the flu. But what if you do get sick? What medications can you take to feel better while also keeping your pregnancy or your little one safe?

Mucinex is one of many over-the-counter (OTC) cold medications. The main forms of Mucinex are Mucinex, Mucinex D, Mucinex DM, and the extra-strength versions of each. These forms can be used to treat symptoms of colds and the flu, such as cough and congestion in your chest and nasal passages. Here’s what to know about the safety of Mucinex while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Is Mucinex safe to use during pregnancy?

The three active ingredients in Mucinex, Mucinex D, and Mucinex DM are guaifenesin, dextromethorphan, and pseudoephedrine. These drugs are found in differing amounts in these Mucinex products. To understand Mucinex safety during pregnancy, first we have to look at the safety of these three ingredients.

Guaifenesin

Guaifenesin is an expectorant. It helps relieve symptoms of chest congestion by loosening and thinning mucus in the lungs. Coughing up mucus helps clear the airways and makes breathing easier.

According to a source in American Academy of Family Physicians, it’s not yet known if guaifenesin is safe to use during pregnancy. Therefore, doctors recommend that you avoid using it during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Dextromethorphan

Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressant. It works by affecting the signals in the brain that trigger the cough reflex. According to the same source in American Academy of Family Physicians, dextromethorphan seems to be safe to use during pregnancy. However, this medication should only be used during pregnancy if it’s clearly needed.

Pseudoephedrine

Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant. It shrinks blood vessels in your nasal passages, which helps reduce stuffiness in your nose. The American Academy of Family Physicians states that pseudoephedrine could cause certain birth defects during the first trimester of pregnancy. They recommend that you avoid using it during that time.

Strengths

The table below lists the strengths of each ingredient in different Mucinex products.

IngredientGuaifenesinDextromethorphanPseudoephedrine
Mucinex600 mg—-—-
Maximum Strength Mucinex1,200 mg—-—-
Mucinex DM600 mg30 mg—-
Maximum Strength Mucinex DM1,200 mg60 mg—-
Mucinex D600 mg—-60 mg
Maximum Strength Mucinex D1,200 mg—-120 mg

In conclusion…

Because the six forms of Mucinex listed above all contain guaifenesin, you should avoid taking any of them during the first trimester of your pregnancy. However, they may be safe to use during later trimesters. Still, you should be sure to ask your doctor before taking any Mucinex products at any time during your pregnancy.

Is Mucinex safe to use while breastfeeding?

To find out if Mucinex, Mucinex D, and Mucinex DM are safe to use while breastfeeding, again we have to look at the safety of their active ingredients.

Guaifenesin

No reliable studies have yet been done about the safety of guaifenesin use while breastfeeding. Some sources claim that it’s likely safe, while others suggest avoiding the drug until more is known about its effects.

Dextromethorphan

Dextromethorphan safety during breastfeeding has not been studied much, either. However, it’s thought that only very low levels of the drug may appear in breast milk if the mother takes dextromethorphan. It’s likely safe to use during breastfeeding, especially in children who are older than two months of age.

Pseudoephedrine

Pseudoephendrine’s safety during breastfeeding has been studied more than guaifenesin’s or dextromethorphan’s. In general, pseudoephedrine is thought to be safe during breastfeeding. However, small studiesTrusted Source have found that the drug could reduce the amount of milk your body makes. Pseudoephedrine may also cause breastfed infants to be more irritable than normal.

In conclusion…

It’s likely safe to use these Mucinex products while breastfeeding. However, you should always ask your doctor before doing so.

Alternatives

If you would like to avoid taking cold medications during your pregnancy or while breastfeeding, there are drug-free options that could help relieve your symptoms.

For congestion

Try these:

  • Drink more fluids, such as water or fruit juices, to help loosen mucus and ease the removal of phlegm. If you have any medical condition that requires you to limit fluids or sugars, such as diabetes or heart failure, check with your doctor before drinking more fluids.
  • Take a hot shower. The steam can open your nasal passages and help you breathe more easily.
  • Use an extra pillow when sleeping. This can help fluids drain from your nasal passages more easily.

For sore throat

Try these:

  • Gargle with warm salt water.
  • Suck on a throat lozenge or piece of hard candy.
  • Eat ice chips.
  • Drink warm tea.

Shop for throat lozenges.

Shop for tea.

Talk with your doctor

Mucinex is likely safe to take while breastfeeding and during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Before taking any medication while pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first. You may want to review this article with your doctor and ask any questions you have. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Is Mucinex, Mucinex D, or Mucinex DM safe for me to take?
  • Which of these products would work best for my symptoms?
  • Am I taking any other medications that contain the same ingredients as Mucinex?
  • Are there other, non-drug ways to help relieve my symptoms?
  • Do I have any health problems that Mucinex could affect?

Your doctor can help you find relief from your symptoms while keeping your pregnancy or your child safe.

Note: There are many other forms of Mucinex not listed in this article, such as Maximum Strength Mucinex Fast-Max Severe Cold. Other forms may contain other medications, such as acetaminophen and phenylephrine. This article only addresses Mucinex, Mucinex D, and Mucinex DM. If you’d like to know about the effects of the other forms of Mucinex, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

List of Medications You Can Take While Pregnant

What Medications Can I Take

We generally recommend you avoid taking any medications you have not been prescribed during your first trimester.  On occasion it may be medically necessary to do so. Fortunately, there are many medications that are safe during pregnancy.

At SSM Health, we encourage you to speak with your doctor before taking any drugs and only use medications as directed. If you are unsure about a particular medication, speak with your doctor.

Over-the-Counter Medications Safe to Take During Pregnancy

Pain Relief

  • Tylenol or acetaminophen (plain/extra strength) for mild discomfort

Caution: do not take aspirin (Anacin, Bayer) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

Medicine for Digestive Upsets

  • Antacids (Tums, Rolaids, Mylanta, Maalox, Pepcid, Prevacid)
  • Simethicone (Gas-X, Mylicon for gas pain, Gaviscon)
  • Immodium or BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast or tea) for diarrhea

Medicine for Coughs/Colds

  • Guaifenesin (Robitussin®)
  • Guaifenesin plus dextromethorphan (Robitussin-DM®)
  • Cough drops
  • Vicks VapoRub®
  • Acetaminophen

Allergy Relief

  • Tylenol or acetaminophen (plain/extra strength) is OK
  • Chlorpheniramine antihistamine alone (chlor-Trimetron)
  • Benadryl tablets
  • Saline nasal spray
  • Neti-pot or sinus rinse
  • Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra

Options for Constipation

  • Fiber can be used regularly (Metamucil®, MiraLax®, Citrucel®, BeneFiber®)
  • Laxatives can be used occasionally (Colace®, Dulcolax®)
  • Tucks for hemorrhoids
  • Mix of Prune juice, OJ, 7-UP® – equal parts

Other Things You May Have Worried About That Also Appear to Be Safe

  • Nutrasweet® (1–2 servings per day)
  • One or two cups of coffee per day
  • Nix for head lice
  • Perms
  • Sunscreen
  • Hair coloring products
  • Pedicures
  • Mosquito repellent containing DEET

Mucinex Pregnancy

  • Mucinex (guaifenesin) is a cough medication that helps loosen mucus in the lungs so you can cough it up.
  • Some people think that taking Mucinex can help you become pregnant. But, there’s not enough research to support this claim. 
  • If you’re struggling with infertility, talk to your healthcare provider. There are medications and procedures that may help you on your journey.
Close-up on a person's hand holding a blister pack of teal and blue pills. The background is a wall full of different medications.
MJ_Prototype/iStock via Getty Images

Infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant after having unprotected sex for a certain length of time. For those under 35, you’re considered infertile after 1 year of unprotected sex. For those who are 35 or older, it’s 6 months. And though this label of infertility may feel isolating, it is a somewhat common experience. Among male-female couples, about 20% are unable to become pregnant after 1 year of trying. 

The experience of infertility can be emotionally and physically difficult. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to managing it. And the best treatment depends on what’s causing infertility and what you’re comfortable with. Treatment options include medications and medical procedures (like in vitro fertilization). 

Some people have taken rather unorthodox measures — like using Mucinex (guaifenesin) to help promote fertility. Mucinex is a common over-the-counter (OTC) cough medication. It’s not FDA-approved to treat infertility, and it’s unclear if it has any impact on getting pregnant. So, using it for this reason is considered an off-label use. 

Here, we’ll discuss how Mucinex works and why it’s not the best option for treating infertility. 

How does Mucinex work and what’s it usually used for?

Mucinex is an expectorant medication. Expectorants thin out the mucus in your lungs. This makes the mucus easier to clear when you cough, which relieves chest congestion. It’s most commonly used to help relieve chest congestion in short-term conditions like the common cold and seasonal flu.

Mucinex is available OTC. It’s available as both brand-name and generic medications. The different forms of Mucinex include:

  • Liquid solution
  • Granule packets
  • Oral capsules
  • Immediate-release tablets
  • Extended-release tablets

Combination medications, such as Mucinex DM (guaifenesin/dextromethorphan), also exist. Dextromethorphan is a cough suppressing medication.

Can Mucinex help me get pregnant?

Not that we know of. 

No well-designed studies (such as a randomized controlled trial) have shown that Mucinex helps people get pregnant. This is why the American Society of Reproductive Medicine hasn’t included Mucinex in any of their fertility guidelines.

Why do some people think Mucinex can help them become pregnant?

Remember that Mucinex is typically used to thin out mucus in your lungs. Some people believe that Mucinex can promote fertility by improving the quality of another type of mucus in the female body. Cervical mucus — a fluid produced by the cervix — plays a vital role in becoming pregnant.

In order to become pregnant, a sperm must enter an egg. This is known as conception. Sperm need protection while traveling through the female reproductive tract, and cervical mucus provides this protection.

The amount and quality of your cervical mucus is important. Having enough cervical mucus that’s of “fertile quality” can promote fertility. If you don’t make enough cervical mucus, or it’s not considered “fertile-quality,” this can affect your ability to get pregnant. This is the reason that some people have tried to use Mucinex to help them become pregnant.

What does the research say about taking Mucinex for fertility?

The link between Mucinex and fertility traces back to a small study published 40 years ago. This study involved 40 male-female couples who had been unable to conceive for at least 10 months. Baseline testing suggested that poor cervical mucus quality might be the cause of infertility.

The female participant in each couple took Mucinex 200 mg orally 3 times daily. They began 5 days after the start of their menstrual period. This continued until there was a rise in their body temperature (your temperature rises slightly after you ovulate). Over half of the female participants had a substantial improvement in cervical mucus quality.

Overall, 40% of female participants became pregnant after Mucinex therapy. But this was a small study, and there was no comparison group (a group of participants who didn’t take Mucinex). Without a comparison group, it’s hard to know if Mucinex is the reason some female participants became pregnant.

Luckily, there are other well-studied treatment options for fertility. Treatment may consist of different medications and medical procedures. It’s important to discuss these options with your healthcare provider. They’ll likely refer you to a fertility specialist to determine the best treatment for you.

What do studies show about males taking Mucinex for fertility?

There’s not much research to show that Mucinex helps with male fertility, but one case report suggests it may be possible.

In this case report, a man with low sperm count and poor motility (the ability for sperm to move efficiently) took Mucinex for 2 months. His sperm count and motility improved after Mucinex treatment. But, his female partner had not become pregnant at the time the case report was published. 

This case report alone doesn’t prove that Mucinex can improve fertility in men. More research — in a much larger group of participants — would be needed to confirm whether this is true.

What are the risks of taking Mucinex?

Mucinex doesn’t usually cause serious side effects. But, you may experience the following minor side effects while taking it:

In rare cases, Mucinex may cause a severe allergic reaction. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). These include trouble breathing, hives, or a tight throat.

Can I take Mucinex if I’m currently pregnant?

If you’re pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider before taking Mucinex. It’s unclear whether Mucinex is safe during pregnancy. 

Some cough syrups with Mucinex may contain alcohol. It’s best to avoid alcohol if you’re pregnant, so be careful when taking liquid cough medications. Make sure to look for products that are alcohol-free. Consuming alcohol during pregnancy can lead to complications including slowed growth and stillbirth.

The bottom line

Some people have heard that taking Mucinex off-label can promote fertility. But we don’t have enough research to say whether Mucinex can help you become pregnant.

If you’re struggling with infertility, you’re not alone. Talk with your healthcare provider about medications and medical procedures that can promote fertility. These tried and true options may offer a greater chance of becoming pregnant than Mucinex can.

Sudafed or Mucinex While Pregnant

Warnings of Sudafed and Mucinex

Sudafed has some warnings to be mindful of. It may cause nervousness, dizziness, or sleeplessness. As stated above, if you take a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), such as selegiline or tranylcypromine, do not take Sudafed. Also, allow two weeks after stopping the MAOI before using Sudafed. 

If you have certain health conditions, you should check with your doctor before using Sudafed. These include heart problems, high blood pressure (hypertension), thyroid disease, diabetes, or enlarged prostate. 

Sudafed should not be used in the first trimester of pregnancy. You may be able to use Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) in the second or third trimester but would need to consult your healthcare provider. Sudafed may be used occasionally while breastfeeding, but only if your doctor approves. Sudafed-PE (phenylephrine) should not be used during pregnancy. 

Mucinex also has several warnings. You should consult your healthcare provider before using Mucinex if you have a persistent or chronic cough like the type that occurs with smoking, asthma, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema; or a cough accompanied by a very large amount of mucus.

Mucinex extended-release tablets should not be crushed or chewed. The tablet should be taken with a full glass of water. Mucinex may be used in pregnancy, and with caution during breastfeeding, as long as your healthcare provider approves. Children under age four should not take cold medications such as Sudafed or Mucinex. Consult your healthcare provider for advice. 

Sudafed or Mucinex can be helpful in managing symptoms; however, they do not treat bacterial infections, such as a sinus infection. If your symptoms are severe or do not improve, be sure to see your doctor because you may need antibiotics. 

Frequently asked questions about Sudafed vs. Mucinex

What is Sudafed?

Sudafed contains a nasal decongestant called pseudoephedrine. It helps relieve a stuffy nose due to the common cold, hay fever, or other upper respiratory allergies. 

What is Mucinex?

Mucinex contains an expectorant called guaifenesin. Guaifenesin helps thin and loosen up chest congestion when you have a phlegmy, or productive, cough.

Are Sudafed and Mucinex the same?

No. Sudafed contains pseudoephedrine and is used for nasal congestion or a stuffy nose. Mucinex contains guaifenesin and is used to loosen chest congestion. 

Is Sudafed or Mucinex better?

Each medication is used for a different purpose. If you are experiencing nasal congestion, and you do not have any of the health conditions listed in the warnings above, you may want to take Sudafed. And if you are coughing up a lot of phlegm, you may want to take Mucinex. 

Can I use Sudafed or Mucinex while pregnant?

Consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice. Generally, Sudafed cannot be taken in the first trimester but can be taken occasionally during the second and third trimester provided you do not have heart disease, high blood pressure, etc. Sudafed-PE (phenylephrine) is not recommended in pregnancy. 

Mucinex can usually be used safely in pregnancy. Again, be sure to check with your doctor before using Sudafed or Mucinex while pregnant. 

Can I use Sudafed or Mucinex with alcohol?

It is best to avoid alcohol while taking these medications. Some forms of Sudafed or Mucinex come as a combination medication, with several medications in one. Alcohol can intensify the effect of some of these medications, worsen side effects, and cause additional impairment. It is safer to wait until you are feeling better before drinking alcohol.

Can Mucinex and Sudafed be taken together?

You can take them both together if you have nasal congestion as well as a phlegmy cough. 

Is Sudafed or Mucinex better for post nasal drip?

It depends on what symptoms you are experiencing. If you feel like you have a lot of phlegm, Mucinex may be worth a try. If the drip is accompanied by nasal congestion, you can try Sudafed. You can also try to use a humidifier in your room, drink a lot of fluids, use a nasal irrigation solution, and sleep with your head propped up on pillows. 

Is Mucinex a decongestant?

Mucinex is considered a chest decongestant because it loosens up mucus and helps you cough it up. It is not helpful if you have a stuffy nose or nasal congestion. 

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