What Is Oxytocin?


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Julii Brainard answered
It's sometimes called "the love hormone".

Basically, it's a feel good chemical in the blood stream (made by the pituitary gland). We feel it's affects briefly (it only lasts in the blood for about five minutes) when people touch each other, so it has also been dubbed the "hug hormone". Oxytocin is released in larger doses at orgasm (for both sexes). It has some additional special functions in a woman's body, though.

Oxytocin is released when a woman is breastfeeding. Initially this helps the uterus contract and expel the placenta after birth (synthetic oxytocin can also be injected for this purpose). Oxytocin is the specific hormone that causes the milk to start flowing ("let-down"). Oxytocin causes the mother to relax during feeding and promotes bonding with the infant.

Oxytocin acts jointly with estrogen; the more estrogen in a women's body, the more impact her levels of oxytocin have on her. Oxytocin impairs memory, which is why a hug may help us forgive somebody after an argument.

Almost all vertebrate animals produce oxytocin or a similar hormone with roles in reproduction and care of young.

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