Oxytocin: “The Love Hormone”
Oxytocin (Greek for “quick birth”) is a mammalian neurohypophysial hormone. Whew! That’s a mouthful, right? Let’s break it down. Neurohypophysial hormones create a family of structural proteins that serve endocrine functions.
Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that does not get re-absorbed.
“The Love Hormone”
Oxytocin is released during hugging, touching, sex and orgasm. Within the brain, oxytocin helps people bond, navigate social situations, evoke trust, and it may even be involved in generosity.
Oxytocin is secreted from the pituitary gland and cannot re-enter the brain because it cannot pass through the blood-brain barrier.
Large amounts are released after childbirth through the cervix and uterus. After a woman gives birth, oxytocin helps to evoke maternal bonding and assists in the mother’s lactation. It’s often referred to as the “letdown reflex” because it assists in the letdown of milk into a mother’s subareolar sinuses where it is then secreted for the baby.
Oxytocin protects against stress by stimulating feelings of peacefulness and a sense of calm. It also causes a decrease in anxiety levels around a mate. This may play a significant role in subduing fear and anxiety to allow an orgasm to occur.
- Is produced as a result of touch
- Causes feelings of intimacy and closeness
- Triggers increased orgasm
- Shortens time to orgasm and makes it easier to reach climax
- Increases vaginal secretions
- Has been an effective treatment for autism and similar behavioral problems
- Enhances pleasurable sensations
- Aids feelings of well-being, warmth, trust and contentment
- Helps relax blood vessels and lowers blood pressure
- Aids in social anxiety and sociability
- Increases bonding, nurturing and trust
- Has a very similar structure to vasopressin