Oxytocin: what it is and what it is for

Oxytocin is a hormone produced in the brain, which has an important role in facilitating delivery and breastfeeding, but it can also be found in pharmacies, in the form of capsules, liquid or spray, as is the case with Syntocinon, for example, and be used only according to medical advice.

It is also known as the love hormone, due to its role in improving mood, social interaction, decreasing anxiety and increasing bonding between partners. In men, this hormone is able to decrease aggression, making it more lovable, generous and social, although its performance is often blocked by the action of testosterone. Learn more about the effects of oxytocin on men.

What is it for

The main functions of oxytocin in the body are:

1. Facilitate delivery

Due to its rhythmic stimulation for the contraction of the uterus, oxytocin naturally produced by the body helps labor. However, in the form of medication, it is used when it is necessary to induce labor, in pregnant women whose delivery did not take place in the expected time, such as those over 41 weeks of gestation or when it is very long.

It should only be used with the indication of the obstetrician, and cannot be used on other occasions by pregnant women, due to the risk of childbirth or premature birth.

2. Assist breastfeeding

Oxytocin is produced naturally by the woman's body, due to the baby's sucking stimulus during breastfeeding. The synthetic hormone sold in pharmacies can be used from 2 to 5 minutes before each feeding or before expressing the milk with the breast pump, if the woman has difficulties in breastfeeding or if she is a foster mother, helping breastfeeding and the connection between mother and son.

3. Improve social relations

Oxytocin has a role in improving social life, in the perception of emotional expressions and sensitivity, therefore, this hormone seems to have positive effects to help in the treatment of patients with autism and schizophrenia, in cases indicated by the psychiatrist.

4. Help fight depression and anxiety

This hormone can adjust the expression of emotions, reducing the feeling of stress, in addition to improving mood and living with people, and, in some cases, can help treat people with depression, intense anxiety and social phobia. In these cases, the use of oxytocin should also be indicated by the psychiatrist.

5. Increase pleasure in intimate contact

Oxytocin is believed to have a role in improving libido and sexual performance, acting in conjunction with testosterone in men and progesterone in women to improve pleasure and interest in intimate contact, in addition to facilitating vaginal lubrication and reaching orgasm.

Physical contact, not only sexual, but also through hugs and cuddling are ways to increase oxytocin without the need for medication. See other ways to increase oxytocin naturally.