Sumatriptan belongs to the class of medicines called triptans and it is the same as serotonin. It is a 5 HT receptor agonist. Sumatriptan is used for many medical conditions but is primarily used for migraines and cluster headaches.

What Is A 5-Ht Receptor Agonist?

An agonist is a term used when a medicine binds to the receptor in the body and produces the same effect as other chemicals that are made naturally in the body.

5HT (5 Hydroxytryptamine) receptors are also called serotonin receptors in the medical world. Sumatriptan is similar to serotonin, so it binds with the 5HT receptors and produces its effects.

How Does Sumatriptan Act On The Body?

Sumatriptan is similar to serotonin, it interacts with 5HT receptors and produces its effects.
Its exact way of action on the body is not clear, it’s been suggested that it reduces the widening of blood vessels.

Migraine attacks occur when the blood vessels are widened and there is an increased blood flow to the brain blood vessels. It also decreases the action of the trigeminal nerve which causes pain sensitization. This mechanism cures both migraine and headaches.

Uses Of Sumatriptan

It is used for

  • Migraines (severe head pain with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light)
  • Headaches (cluster headaches)
  • General pain

How Often Does A Pregnant Woman Face The Problem Of Migraine?

Migraine is genetic i.e. runs in families. Various surveys suggest that 15-20% of pregnant women suffer from migraine. Migraine is the worst at the start of pregnancy. The attacks of migraine are less likely to occur in the last months of pregnancy. After the delivery, this migraine pain worsens.

Reasons For Migraine In Pregnant Women

There are various reasons for migraine in pregnant women

  • Genetic problems i.e. tend to run in families
  • Hormonal changes especially estrogen levels may not stabilize
  • Sleep disorder
  • Stress and hypertension
  • Less water intake
  • Strong smells or fumes like paint, perfume, etc.
  • Intense light exposure
  • Certain foods such as chocolates, cheese, and food that contain glutamate
  • Weather changes

Can Pregnant Women Take Sumatriptan?

It is considered a safe medicine for migraine attacks in pregnant women. No significant data is found that suggests that this drug is an unsafe option for the treatment of migraine

However, more studies are needed to assure that the use of sumatriptan is not risky during pregnancy.
In one of the study results, women who have a problem from these migraine headaches, which do not allow them to carry out daily chores, can use triptans during pregnancy.

Doctors do not suggest avoiding triptans as they may outweigh the risks and benefits.

The Proof Center

Study Of Sumatriptan On Pregnant Women
The objective of the study is to monitor the major teratogenicity by evaluating the risk of all birth defects following pregnant women who are taking sumatriptan, naratriptan, and the sumatriptan/naproxen sodium combination medicines.
They involved 680 evaluable exposed pregnant women. Of these outcomes, 626 were given sumatriptan, 57 were given naratriptan, and 6 were given the sumatriptan/naproxen sodium combination product.

No defects were reported in the first-trimester who took the sumatriptan/naproxen sodium in combination. They detected no signal of teratogenicity associated with major birth defects for sumatriptan.
It explains the safety of Sumatriptan in pregnancy. Read the full story here

Are There Any Chances Of Birth Defects After Taking Sumatriptan?

There is no strong evidence of an association between birth defects while taking sumatriptan.
Minimum to low chances of birth defects risk is always there which you can call a background risk.
However, the data from these clinical studies is not sufficient to support whether pregnant women should sumatriptan or not.

Sumatriptan And Breastfeeding

According to one of the studies it is safe to take Sumatriptan while breastfeeding as little amount of sumatriptan gets into the breastmilk. Sumatriptan does not get absorbed completely in the gut, a little amount goes into the breast milk and it is very rare that it will be absorbed into the baby’s system.

The studies also revealed that a premature baby who does develop a full digestive system might absorb a little amount via breastfeeding, but with little chance of any side effects.

Are There Any Side Effects From Sumatriptan In Pregnancy?

This medicine produces little to no side effects. Pain, tiredness, dizziness, hot flashes, and breath shortness are some of its common side effects.


Studies and many surveys have suggested that it is safer to take Sumatriptan while migraine attacks during pregnancy. Birth defects are very common with some background risks associated with them.

The US FDA has classified Sumatriptan in the pregnancy category C which means it can be used when there are more benefits than risks.

Clinical trial data lacks sufficient information to support that Sumatriptan does not cause any detrimental effects on the fetus and newborn.


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