Oxytocin is created in the hypothalamus and plays a major role in sending chemical messages to promote human behavior.
Primary role of Oxytocin
Oxytocin helps females with their reproductive system. During labor, oxytocin helps the uterine muscles contract. Through positive feedback, when contractions start during childbirth, oxytocin is released and as more contractions arise, more oxytocin is increased to increase intensity and frequency. Once the baby is born the secretion of oxytocin stops. Not only does oxytocin help aid in childbirth it also helps to deliver the placenta and reduce the risks of heavy bleeding. In addition, oxytocin supports the signals of lactation. When the nipples are stimulated, oxytocin production secretes which helps transport milk down out of the nipple. Once the baby stops suckling, oxytocin secretion also halts.
On the other hand, oxytocin in males helps to transport sperm and it also helps produce testosterone in the testes.
In both males and females, oxytocin has increased effects on sexual arousal and romantic interactions. For this reason it is commonly known as the “Love Hormone”.
Oxytocin: The Love Hormone
Studies have shown oxytocin levels are very high during romantic interactions and sexual activity. Sexual activity has the ability to stimulate the secretion of oxytocin and holds a important role in erections and orgasms. For women specifically, oxytocin helps to contract the uterine walls to help transport sperm.
In addition, there is an emotional connection with oxytocin. Oxytocin affects emotional, cognitive and social behaviors. For instance, oxytocin is linked to relaxation, trust and psychological stability. This in turn helps to reduce stress and anxiety.