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Robitussin: Pregnancy in a $5 Bottle of Hope

by Siri Agrell,  Globe and Mail,  April 9, 2010
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Meghan O'Brian had been trying to get pregnant for more than a year and a half when a test flashed her a positive result last July. Just 29 years old at the time, she had seen fertility specialists, undergone ultrasounds and blood analysis, and even had a procedure to see if her fallopian tubes were blocked. She had been given constant and often contradictory advice: to give it time and relax, or to go straight to in-vitro fertilization and hormone treatment. But when she finally found out she was pregnant, there was one word that flashed through her mind: “Robitussin.”

Ms. O'Brian and her husband, Jon, a doctor of emergency medicine, welcomed their daughter, Mila, on Wednesday in Vancouver. They credit the baby's conception to an unlikely factor, an everyday cough syrup that is celebrated as a fertility aid by a community of women who describe themselves as TTC – “trying to conceive.”

A Pennsylvania doctor, Jerome Check, published an article called “Improvement of cervical factor with guaifenesin” in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility in 1982. It documented a study of 40 couples who had been attempting unsuccessfully to conceive for at least 10 months.

The women were given 200 milligrams of guaifenesin three times a day, from the fifth day of menstruation through to ovulation. Dr. Check found that 23 of the women showed “marked improvement in postcoital tests after treatment, while seven showed slight improvement,” meaning that their cervical mucus was noticeably thinner.

More important, of those 23 couples, Dr. Check wrote that 15 became pregnant while testing the regimen. One patient with only mild improvement in her mucus levels also conceived. Dr. Check concluded that guaifenesin is “one of the simplest and cheapest treatment methods of addressing the cervical factor.” Read more.


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