The Perks of Oxytocin
There’s this amazing little chemical in the brain called oxytocin, which is often referred to as the “love hormone”. You may have heard of this, as it’s been widely studied and there’s all kinds of information out there on it involving a variety of topics. While it does have a lot to do with all things love, there is so much more to oxytocin and the benefits of it than meets the eye. From familial and romantic bonds to basic social interactions, it plays a role in our emotions and even sometimes our actions. Here’s how…
Oxytocin plays a part in reproduction from the time of conception. It stimulates the uterine muscles to contract and triggers labor. It increases the production of prostaglandins which hurries labor along and increases contractions even more. When a woman is struggling to start labor naturally the doctor may induce her labor with synthetic oxytocin also known as (pitocin). Once the baby is delivered, and the baby attempts to feed from the mother’s breast, it’s oxytocin that triggers the release of milk. This hormone is also released when the mother snuggles with the child, holds, and even just looks at the child. It plays a vital role in the bond that happens between mother and baby.
It’s not just limited to the bond between mother and child, though; It also plays a large role in the bond between partners. A study¹ from 2012 found that couples who were in the beginning of their relationships had significantly higher levels of oxytocin than singles who were unattached. These levels stayed continuously high for at least 6 months, heightened by mental, emotional, and physical connection.
Beyond these kinds of strong bonds, oxytocin also affects social behaviors. Another study² found that oxytocin also influences aggression, social memory and support, trust, while down regulating stress responses, including anxiety. This means that oxytocin, and synthetic forms of it may actually be beneficial for those who suffer from anxiety and social problems, helping them to remain calm in stressful situations. Want to know an easy way to get an oxytocin fix without taking any kind of medication? Get a massage! Did you know that touch, especially prolonged, calming and therapeutic forms, can cause the release of oxytocin, allowing the body and mind to fully relax and find a reprieve from any stress? So how about booking your next appointment and start reaping those benefits for yourself!
¹ Neumann, I. (2007, April 03). Oxytocin: The Neuropeptide of Love Reveals Some of Its Secrets. Retrieved August 06, 2020, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413107000691
² Schneiderman, I., Zagoory-Sharon, O., Leckman, J., & Feldman, R. (2012, August). Oxytocin during the initial stages of romantic attachment: Relations to couples’ interactive reciprocity. Retrieved August 06, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3936960/