Oxytocin or also known as ‘Love Hormones’ & ‘Cuddle Hormones’ is the hormone that is present in females and males and it helps in building trust in one another.
Oxytocin hormones are directly related to the bonding between baby and her mother and there is more to talk about this amazing neuropeptide other than just love and bonding, it affects our whole lifestyle as this is the hormone responsible for making us feel good and battling conditions like depression.
Definition and function of the Oxytocin Hormone
Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter and a hormone that is associated with empathy, trust, sexual activity, and relationship-building.
The good feeling you have during orgasm or when you hug someone is due to this hormone.
Oxytocin is produced in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a very important part of the brain that regulates body temperature, sexual behavior, and of course releasing hormones. Oxytocins then transported to and secreted by the pituitary gland, at the base of the brain.
Oxytocin controls uterine contractions during labor, as the cervix and vagina start to widen for labor then it releases.
The bonding between a mother and her baby is due to oxytocin because when a baby is born, the levels of oxytocin is at its peak in the woman. Oxytocin helps with the milk ejection in breastfeeding and the Stimulation of the nipples triggers its release. –Source
Oxytocin helps in solidifying a relationship. This is seen that children have a higher level of oxytocin when meeting their mother.
It is very beneficial for the treatment of depression, anxiety, and intestinal problems.
Females have higher levels of Oxytocin than males.
Effects of the Oxytocin Hormone
Researchers at the University of Bonn Hospital discovered that oxytocin hinders the brain’s fear center. The researchers showed a few images accompanied by the electric shock to the subjects. Half of the subjects were later given oxytocin nasal spray and then shown the images but without the electric shock. the people who got nasal sprayed were less afraid and the areas of their brains associated with fear were less active. This is why even I started using it from time to time because it is very easily accessible, as you can also buy it from amazon.
These hormones can ease stress and helps in fighting anxiety, research done on prairie voles showed that those separated from their siblings exhibited signs of anxiety, stress, and depression that decreased after they were injected with oxytocin.
If you are addicted to drugs and not able to lose the habit then you should try oxytocin injections or nasal spray because a study showed that oxytocin restrains tolerance to addictive drugs like cocaine and alcohol.
Many people are not good at social interactions and are not able to make friends easily or even talk with someone. So oxytocin may be the answer for this because a study showed that breathing in oxytocin significantly improved the ability of people with autism to interact with others. -Source
Oxytocins affects dogs as same as humans. A study showed that oxytocin makes dogs more friendly toward their owners. -Source
The lead researcher said
We found that after receiving the oxytocin spray, dogs displayed more affiliative behaviors and paid more attention to their owners than during the controls
Oxytocin has a direct effect on brain growth. There is evidence that shows that, in early stages in the development of brain oxytocin hormones helps to organize neural circuits in the brain and that these organizational effects may help the brain develop the capacity to execute sex-specific and context-appropriate social behaviors later in life. source
Oxytocin helps sperm to reach their destination in women due to the increased uterine motility.
Sexual activities can lead to stimulating the release of oxytocin, it has been found that orgasm or erection between men and women leads to a higher release of the hormone. People who don’t engage in sexual activities may not have the benefits of oxytocin. hugging and cuddling can also release the oxytocin. This is the reason it is also called the love hormone.
During the first 6 months of a relationship, Oxytocin levels are higher than compared with non-attached single people.
One study shows that oxytocin promotes sleep, it makes sense because oxytocin has calming effects and when released in a stress-free environment oxytocin induces sleep. source
If you feel generous after hugging someone or after inhaling oxytocin, research shows that it happens when we’re prompted to identify emotionally with another person. Researchers gave UCLA students a nasal spray containing either saline placebo or oxytocin to find who is more generous towards in case they have to split the money. 80% of the student who was given oxytocin were more generous than the students who were on placeboes. source
Side Effects of the Oxytocin
Naturally, it does not have any issue or side effects because it is part of our body but if you’re using it as a drug to start birth contractions or strengthen them during labor, it can cause a problem if not used properly.
Some of the side effects are
- loss of appetite,
- redness or irritation at the injection site,
- stomach pain,
- runny nose,
- more intense or more frequent contractions (this is an expected effect of oxytocin),
- sinus pain or irritation, or
- memory problems
Your heart rate can also increase rapidly and even get slower and it can be dangerous to a new-born baby as well because it can cause
- slow heartbeats or other abnormal heart rates
- a seizure
- jaundice (a yellow appearance of the baby’s skin)
- eye problems; or
- problems with breathing, muscle tone, and other signs of health.
While it has many good effects, it also has some drastic side effects as well so before using any drug or injection call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
If you want to learn more about the research for the oxytocin and its effects you can buy a book called Handbook of Oxytocin Research from amazon or if you are a mother and want to know the complication related to oxytocin, there is a whole guide called Oxytocin: The Biological Guide To Motherhood available at amazon.