Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter chemical that is produced by the pituitary gland in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain. It is basically a female hormone but is also found in men. But in women, it is far more than for men. The oxytocin hormone plays a role or we can say that it is released in activities like sex, delivery, and breastfeeding. Oxytocin is also related to feelings of love, trust, empathy, and building relationships. The levels of oxytocin rise in women during activities like cuddling, hugging, orgasm, etc. Since it rises during the feelings of affection, therefore, it is also called the ‘love hormone.
Moreover, it aids in other reproductive functions. Some of the possible effects of oxytocin on relationship enhancements include gazing, positive communication, fidelity, positive and happy relationship or couple memories, bonding, etc. Oxytocin has a number of physical, psychological, and sociological effects on behavior and emotions. It influences the social bonding with people, the creation of memories, recognition in society and so much more. Research has shown that it can help people who have an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), depression, anxiety, intestinal problems, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Oxytocin and labor
During labor, oxytocin helps with the contraction in the muscles of the uterus. It is also released when the cervix and vagina start to widen near the labor. Along with this, oxytocin helps to increase the production of hormones that are related to labor, delivery, and post-delivery. It is also responsible to help the uterus come back to its original size after the baby is delivered.
Oxytocin and lactation
At this time, oxytocin stimulates the production of milk in the mammary glands for the lactation of the baby. When the baby sucks the nipples of its mother, it sends signals to the pituitary glands in the brain to release oxytocin, which ultimately helps to release the milk for the baby.
Oxytocin and sexuality
The stimulation of nipples during sexual activities also triggers the oxytocin to release. Any kind of female sexual health activity is seen to be triggering for the stimulation of the release of oxytocin. In women, it plays a role to reach Female orgasm while in men it helps in erection. A few pieces of research have shown that the intensity of orgasm is directly related to the concentration of oxytocin in the blood. The process can be explained as when you are attracted to a person, dopamine is released by your brain, which increases the levels of serotonin, as a result, oxytocin is produced by the hypothalamus. The production of oxytocin causes you to feel positivity and happiness.
Relation of oxytocin with emotional, cognitive, and social behavior
The hormone oxytocin is known to have a vital role in your emotional, cognition, and social behavior. It plays a role in developing and maintaining relationships with people around you. The hormone influences the level of your mental and emotional stability, relaxation, trust, etc. The hormone is known to be a significant component of the complex neurochemical system that enables the body to react to emotional situations. Oxytocin can help you, your body, and your mind to adapt to a number of different situations with respect to society and emotions. It is known to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, etc., in women.
In couples, oxytocin helps to keep the partner away from infidelity. The more time you spend with your partner, the more oxytocin will be produced in your brain. Similarly, if more oxytocin will produce, the more interest you will develop in your partner. This is how it keeps fidelity in relationships.
Relation of oxytocin with bonding between mother and child
The researches have shown significant effects of oxytocin on the mother-child relationship. The mothers with higher levels of oxytocin are expected to engage with their children’s related activities comparatively more than the others. For example, they are more likely to enjoy activities such as frequently checking their babies, holding children with greater affection, communicating with their baby, bathing, and grooming their baby.
A few pieces of research have even shown that the babies who receive this kind of warmth and love experience a boost of oxytocin as well. This way they seek contact with their mothers more often, which further leads to the strengthening of the bond. And this ‘oxytocin effect’ is not just limited to biological mothers. But the adoptive parents and foster mothers might experience the same.
Oxytocin is prescribed to women as drugs, under the supervision of doctors. It is available in form of injections, intranasal spray, and pills. For example, oxytocin injections are given to women at the time of labor in order to start uterine contractions or make them stronger. These injections are sold under the name ‘Pitocin’. It also helps to reduce the bleeding after the birth of the baby. In case of increased arguments between couples, doctors may prescribe oxytocin intranasal spray. The intake of oxytocin through nostrils has helped to enhance positive communications between partners.