OXYTOCIN, THE LOVE HORMONE

OXYTOCIN, THE LOVE HORMONE

  Wonder why you always desire to be with your partner now and then. That’s the power of oxytocin – which is fondly known as the love hormone.

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Wonder why you always desire to be with your partner now and then. That’s the power of oxytocin – which is fondly known as the love hormone.

 

Would you be surprised to learn that one 2012 study found that couples in the first stages of romantic attachment had significantly higher levels of oxytocin than their unattached counterparts? That’s how powerful the hormone is.

 

It goes beyond new love as it is also released during sexual activities among old partners which is why it has also been linked with extreme orgasm. Oxytocin has been linked to virtues obtainable in positive relationships – such virtues as trust, empathy, positive relationship memories, positive communication, bonding, fidelity, and all. This article will intimate you with all you need to know about the renowned love hormone.

 

What exactly is oxytocin?

 

couple looking at pregnancy test

Oxytocin is a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter. It plays an important role in reproduction. In females, the hormone triggers labor and the release of breastmilk. In males, oxytocin helps move sperm. It is produced by the hypothalamus which is a small region at the base of your brain and secreted by the pituitary gland.

 

Oxytocin is associated with other happy hormones released during sexual activities – dopamine and serotonin. Whenever you become attracted to another person, the brain releases dopamine, and the level of your serotonin increases too. Oxytocin is produced in the process, hence leading to a surge of happiness in the person.

 

Oxytocin can affect your social behavior positively by impacting your psychological stability and also by boosting your trust level. It has also been shown to decrease stress and anxiety levels when released into certain parts of the brain.

 

 How can oxytocin positively affect your behaviors?

 

Oxytocin may help your body adapt to many different emotional and social situations.

 

Intranasal oxytocin has been directly linked to enhanced communication between romantic partners. Another research from 2010 also shows that intranasal oxytocin may help people with autism better understand and respond to social cues.

 

What about motherhood?

 

Interestingly, a study shows that oxytocin can also be linked to motherhood in the following ways:

 

Labor

 

The hormone signals the uterus to contract, beginning labor. It helps move the process along by increasing the production of related hormones. After delivery, it helps the uterus return to its previous size.

 

Breastfeeding

 

When a baby latches on its mother’s breast, it triggers a release of oxytocin. This signals the body to let down milk for the baby.

 

Bonding

 

Human and animal studies on the effects of oxytocin on the mother-child bond have found that mothers with higher levels are more likely to engage in affectionate parenting behaviors, including:

 

  • frequent checking in on baby

 

  • affectionate touch

 

  • singing or speaking to a baby in a certain way

 

  • grooming and bathing behaviors

 

Some research suggests that babies who receive this type of parenting experience a boost of oxytocin that makes them seek more contact with their mother, further strengthening their bond.

 

These effects aren’t limited to biological mothers. Researchers in one 2014 study found that oxytocin has a similar effect on foster mothers and adoptive parents.

 

Can oxytocin produce a similar effect in regards to fatherhood?

 

There’s evidence that parenthood stimulates the release of oxytocin in fathers, too.

 

Another 2010 study found that specific types of interaction between father and baby-led to higher oxytocin levels. This includes directing the baby’s attention toward certain objects and encouraging the baby to explore.

 

 Is there any truth to oxytocin’s proposed effect on fidelity?

 

couple worried in bed

  • The link between oxytocin and fidelity may begin with the hormone’s ability to make males view their partners as more attractive than other familiar and unfamiliar females.

 

  • Research from 2012 also suggests that the hormone may influence males to keep a greater social distance from attractive female strangers.

 

  • This may be due to oxytocin’s influence on reward pathways. Engaging in social or sexual contact with your romantic partner may increase your oxytocin levels, creating a behavior loop.

 

  • The more time you spend with your partner, the more oxytocin you produce; the more oxytocin you produce, the more you may desire your partner.

 

Are there any downsides to consider?

 

Although oxytocin can enhance bonding. It has also been linked to feelings of favoritism among groups The hormone has also been linked to feelings of envy and dishonesty. More research is needed to fully understand these implications.

 

It isn’t clear why its effects vary in nature or who may be more likely to experience negative effects. This may depend on other factors, such as underlying psychiatric disorders.

 

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