Oxytocin is a hormone that plays a crucial role in human behavior and feelings and is commonly referred to as the “love hormone.” However, oxytocin is much more significant to the human body than just being responsible for feelings of happiness and love. Instead, its effects are far-reaching and complex, making it a fascinating subject of study for researchers in many fields.
Oxytocin: More Than a Love Hormone
Oxytocin is produced in the hypothalamus and released by the pituitary gland. It is involved in childbirth, lactation, and sexual activity. Oxytocin facilitates uterine contractions during labor, which helps push the baby out of the uterus. It also plays a role in lactation, triggering milk release from the mammary glands.
In addition to these essential physiological processes, oxytocin plays a vital role in social behavior, including bonding, trust, and empathy. Research has shown that oxytocin is released during positive social interactions, such as hugging, kissing, and cuddling. It can also increase trust and generosity and enhance social recognition and memory.
Also, oxytocin plays a role in sexual behavior, particularly facilitating orgasm and promoting bonding between sexual partners.
What Is the Function of Oxytocin?
During child labor, oxytocin induces contractions of the uterus, which helps to push the baby out of the womb. Following delivery, oxytocin remains released during breastfeeding, stimulating the mammary glands to produce milk and facilitate the let-down reflex. Thus, oxytocin supports healthy growth and allows the newborn to receive the essential nutrients from the mother’s milk. In addition, the oxytocin released during nursing aids in building a close emotional bond between the mother and the child.
Oxytocin in Sexuality and Orgasm
Oxytocin is released during sexual activity to enhance sexual pleasure, promote feelings of intimacy, and increase sexual satisfaction. Also, oxytocin facilitates orgasm, as it triggers the release of endorphins, which can produce a sense of euphoria and relaxation.
Oxytocin is involved in partner preference and attachment, which can help foster long-term relationships. Women with higher oxytocin levels are more responsive to sexual stimuli and more likely to engage in sexual behavior with their partners.
Meanwhile, oxytocin is vital in facilitating ejaculation and increasing sexual satisfaction. Also, oxytocin and testosterone can rise in tandem in an individual in response to a stimulus, such as a touch or a cuddle, increasing libido, penile reflexes, and orgasm.
What Happens if Oxytocin Levels Are Too High?
While oxytocin is a critical hormone in the body, having too much of it can have various effects on both men and women. High oxytocin levels can result in an overactive nervous system, leading to different physical and psychological effects.
In men, high oxytocin levels have been associated with reduced testosterone levels, which can result in reduced sex drive, decreased muscle mass, and fatigue. In addition, excessive oxytocin can increase emotional sensitivity, making it challenging to handle stress.
Meanwhile, high oxytocin levels can lead to oversensitivity and emotional instability in women, increasing anxiety and mood swings. Excessive oxytocin can also cause uterine contractions outside pregnancy, leading to painful cramping.
What Happens if Oxytocin Levels Are Too Low?
Too little oxytocin in the body can also have various adverse effects on both men and women. In particular, low oxytocin levels can reduce social bonding, trust, and empathy.
In men, low oxytocin levels may lead to reduced sexual function, including decreased libido and difficulty achieving an erection. Also, low oxytocin levels have been associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety and reduced immune system function.
On the flip side, low oxytocin can reduce maternal behavior and decrease milk production in women. Also, low oxytocin levels have been linked to increased social anxiety and reduced emotional sensitivity, making creating and maintaining relationships difficult.
How to Increase Oxytocin
Implement a Healthy Diet
Although nutrition alone cannot increase oxytocin levels, several nutrients can significantly promote production. Lean meats, fish, and beans, rich in amino acids, can assist in increasing oxytocin levels. In addition, consuming foods high in magnesium and zinc, such as nuts, seeds, and whole grains, can also enhance the synthesis of oxytocin and good hormone function. Also, eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet of nutrient-rich foods supports optimum hormone balance, which may indirectly enhance the body’s synthesis of oxytocin.
Increase Physical Activity
Oxytocin levels may rise with physical exercise. Exercise increases endorphin, increases oxytocin production, and fosters emotions of joy, relaxation, and social connection. Promoting a sense of connection and inclusion and encouraging social contact, such as team sports, may raise oxytocin levels. In addition, regular exercise reduces stress, anxiety, and depression, positively affecting oxytocin production. Physical exercise can also enhance the body’s optimum hormone balance and well-being, which is beneficial for raising oxytocin levels.
Use Compounded Oxytocin
While healthy lifestyle choices can support healthy oxytocin functions, sometimes increasing oxytocin naturally through diet or physical activity may not be sufficient. In such cases, compounded oxytocin in the form of troches may be prescribed by a doctor to help increase the body’s natural levels. Troches are small lozenges that dissolve slowly in the mouth, allowing for a gradual hormone release. Compounded oxytocin is a prescription medication and should only be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Taking compounded oxytocin without medical care can be dangerous and can result in adverse side effects.
Always consult your doctor before taking any medications to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your needs.
Explore Better Hormone Health
ReVital offers free consultations where you can speak to one of our clinicians about ReVital’s Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy. At ReVital, we can conduct simple blood tests to evaluate the levels of these hormones in your system and prescribe supplements or therapies to treat and control the majority of hormonal imbalances. We also encourage that you connect with your regular doctor about any changes in your health and moods.