If you suffer from migraines and take Imitrex, you may wonder if it is safe to continue the medication if you become pregnant. You may be concerned about possible adverse effects on the pregnancy, such as a miscarriage. While there is an unlikely connection between Imitrex and miscarriage, it is always best to be cautious and discuss the use of Imitrex during pregnancy with your doctor.
What Is Imitrex and How Does It Work?
Imitrex is the brand name of the generic drug sumatriptan succinate. It is also known as a triptan and is used to treat migraine headaches. Imitrex is a selective serotonin receptor agonist and was the first official triptan medication. Imitrex works by constricting the dilated blood vessels in the brain that are causing the throbbing migraine pain. Imitrex is available in oral tablets, nasal spray, or by injection. Other sumatriptan brand names include; Alsuma, Migranow, Onzetra Xsail, and Imitrex Nasal.
Is Imitrex and Miscarriage An Issue You Should Worry About?
Imitrex as a stand-alone drug has no proven direct link to miscarriage. However, since many drugs can pose a threat during pregnancy, it is best to understand any risks that may be associated with a drug you were prescribed.
Every drug has an assigned pregnancy category rating from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is important to understand how the FDA rates the safety of medication that you may be prescribed during pregnancy. Imitrex is a pregnancy category C. According to the FDA this means that:
- "Animal studies have shown adverse effects on the fetus."
- "There are no adequate and well-controlled studies on pregnant women."
You may become worried or concerned if your doctor prescribes a pregnancy category C drug. However, your doctor may still recommend this particular drug even though it is a category C drug because the potential benefits will outweigh the possible risks.
What Research Says
There have been a number of studies performed on the risk of taking Imitrex (triptans) while pregnant and while most had reassuring results, there were conflicting results as well.
- A recent study on pregnancy outcomes after anti-migraine triptan use demonstrated that there was "no increase in the rates of major birth defects, spontaneous abortions, preterm delivery, or preeclampsia in triptan-exposed pregnancies."
- Another study showed that the use of triptans during pregnancy "did not appear to increase the rates for major congenital malformations, or the risk of prematurity." However there was an "increased rate of spontaneous abortions in the triptan-exposed group which will require further research."
- An earlier study showed that the drug is a "safe therapeutic option for the treatment of migraines in pregnant women." However, "more studies are needed in order to confirm this information yet the evidence to date was reassuring." It also showed that "triptans are compatible with breastfeeding since only minimal amounts of the drug pass into the mother's milk."
The Risks and Benefits of Imitrex
While it appears that Imitrex is safe to take while pregnant and shouldn't increase your chance of miscarriage, further research is ultimately needed. The best thing you can do is discuss Imitrex with your healthcare provider and he or she will share the latest information that is available regarding this medication.
When talking to your healthcare provider, you should also discuss the long-term risks to your baby versus the short or long-term benefits to your health. For example, drugs taken during the first trimester are potentially more dangerous to a baby than drugs taken during the second and third trimesters. This is because the first 10 weeks of pregnancy is a crucial time for the development of your baby.
There are a few natural remedies you may want to try first before resorting to Imitrex. These include:
- Lying down and placing a cold compress on your forehead.
- Taking a cool bath or shower.
- Taking a nap.
- Light exercise.
- Getting a massage especially in the neck and shoulder area.
- Trying yoga or meditation to relax.
- Drinking a cup of herbal tea such as chamomile or ginger.
When Imitrex May Be Right For You
If natural remedies don't work and your migraine headaches are painful and causing undue stress, and lack of sleep, then taking Imitrex may be beneficial for both you and your baby. However, prior to taking Imitrex you should be educated and knowledgeable about the medication and don't hesitate to discuss any potential risks with your healthcare provider.