Oxytocin: What is it and How Does it Function in the Human Body


Oxytocin is a hormone that releases in the hypothalamus in the brain. It is a hormone that releases during labor and causes the muscles in the uterus to contract. It also releases milk from mammary glands to feed babies. Oxytocin levels help in the interpretation of sexual arousal, social recognition, trust, and empathy.

What Is Oxytocin?


Oxytocin is a naturally occurring hormone that functions in the human body. It plays an important role during childbirth, delivery of milk to the mammary glands, and stimulates uterine contractions. Oxytocin is a chemical that helps your moods. It makes people be kinder and more trusting. Oxytocin also makes people less anxious and less aggressive.

Read on below to learn more about this fascinating hormone that plays an important role in the human body.

Uses of Oxytocin

Oxytocin has a wide variety of uses across all different types of patients. It helps a woman have a baby. Cloning might help men who cannot have children on their own. It might also help patients with autism. Sometimes, doctors prescribe oxytocin to pregnant women. It also helps them with preeclampsia and reduces bleeding after they give birth.

  • Oxytocin is a hormone that helps with labor, contractions, and bleeding after childbirth.
  • It also helps a woman who has an incomplete miscarriage. Oxytocin helps the uterus contract and makes it easier to push out the baby.
  • People might use it for other purposes that are different from the listed medication guide.

Side Effects of Oxytocin

side effects

Because oxytocin is a hormone that our body naturally makes, it is hard to get side effects. They are rare but can happen if you have too much of it. Some side effects that may occur with the use of this hormone include:

Who Should Not Receive Oxytocin?

Do not receive this medication if you:

  • Are allergic to it
  • The uterus may have problems. This can happen after surgery, injury, or a disease. Some people also have it if they have fibroids in their uterus. These people may not be able to do a normal delivery again because of their history.
  • Some people have had recent abdominal surgery such as a cesarean section. They may have an increased risk of side effects from general anesthesia during delivery. These side effects can affect breathing and heart rate. Therefore, tell your doctor about any previous surgeries on the stomach/abdomen. This passes into breast milk but has no effect on a nursing baby.
  • Children with certain heart problems or those who have eye problems due to diabetes should not take the drug. Talk to your doctor before you get the medication.
  • Pregnant women should not take the drug during labor if they are at risk for preterm delivery. This is because the uterus might overreact and stop contractions. This can cause fetal distress (fetal hypoxia) which could result in permanent injury/brain damage or death of the fetus.
  • If you take other drugs that raise your blood pressure, then you might not be able to take oxytocin.
  • Oxytocin is not good for people who are pregnant or have vaginal bleeding. You shouldn’t use oxytocin if you are pregnant, because it can lead to miscarriage and birth defects.

Possible Food and Drug Interactions While Taking Oxytocin

Foods high in tyramines such as aged cheeses may increase blood pressure levels; Oxytocin is not good for pregnant women. If you are pregnant and have bleeding in your vagina, don’t take oxytocin. And, if you are pregnant and want to be pregnant in the future, don’t take oxytocin.

Drugs that may interact with oxytocin:

  • epinephrine (EpiPen)
  • norepinephrine/noradrenaline (Levophed)
  • phenylephrine (Neo-Synephrine).

Do not take this medicine if you have a history of certain types of cancer. Do not take it if you had leukemia or cancer treatment. These factors increase your risk of serious side effects from the anesthesia during labor. These agents can affect breathing and heart rate. Therefore, let your doctor know before taking it so they can decide whether to give you other medications instead. Amniocentesis is a test doctors do on a pregnant woman to see if her baby has birth defects. The amniocentesis is done before the baby comes out from the tummy of the mommy.


Oxytocin helps contract the uterus during childbirth and also helps stimulate uterine contractions. The medicine works to make the blood vessels in your uterus smaller. This makes it so that there is not as much blood going into the uterus. Therefore, this drug will increase the blood flow in your uterus. It will also reduce the pooling of blood. This medication can be used for medical purposes such as:

  • increasing milk production after birth
  • stimulating labor if it has stopped or slowed down due to high altitudes or other causes that decrease oxygen levels around you – but only under supervision from a doctor who is qualified to prescribe and monitor the medication.
  • Oxytocin is a prescription drug that your doctor can give you in order for it to be administered as an injection/intravenous drip, nasal spray (to help stimulate milk production), or tablet form; however, this medicine has been known to cause serious side effects such as:
  • water intoxication (excessive water intake that causes the sodium levels to drop, resulting in seizures and even coma)
  • mild fever
  • rapid heartbeat when used with certain types of heart disease or blood pressure problems – so it’s important you let your doctor know about any pre-existing conditions before starting treatment. Oxytocin is available by prescription only, which means its distribution has been tightly controlled since 1954 due to the serious side effects associated with this drug; therefore, do not obtain it yourself without a valid prescription from your doctor. If you’re allergic to oxytocin or similar drugs such as Pitocin/Terbutaline then alert your physician because there may be other alternative medications that can help treat for what they are prescribing you the oxytocin for. If you have an allergy to any medications, natural or synthetic, also let your doctor know before starting treatment with this drug so they can prescribe a substitute medication that will not trigger negative side effects in your body.

How is Oxytocin Given?

Oxytocin is given as an injection into a muscle or through intravenous infusion. The process starts with a slow injection or infusion. Oxytocin does not work right away, so it might take a while to show its effects. Most people will see the effects in 3 hours after the dosage.

Nasal Spray


If you are going to receive a nasal spray form of oxytocin, it is important that you follow all the steps your doctor tells you very carefully in order for treatment with this medication to be successful. If not then there’s a good chance it may not work properly and/or could make matters worse by causing serious side effects such as water intoxication from over-hydration or other complications from improper use.


In addition, if taking oxytocin orally through tablets, do so on an empty stomach at least one hour before eating anything else – especially acidic foods like citrus fruits which can cause negative interactions between these two substances when taken together because they contain different types of acid compounds; therefore, increasing the risk for kidney damage and gastrointestinal problems due to acid erosion in the stomach.


If taking this medication by injection or intravenous drip, make sure to rotate your arm position every time they poke a new hole so that all areas of skin are properly covered and there is no increased risk for developing an infection near where you’re receiving treatment due to open sores/punctures – especially if using syringes with hollow needles which can be reused but only after being carefully sterilized between each use on different patients. It’s important not to share any personal items such as toothbrushes, razors, clothing, etc… because one person may have certain infections while another does not; therefore, increasing their chances of becoming ill when used by someone else without proper sterilization procedures being followed.

Dosage During Pregnancy

If you’re pregnant and take oxytocin, it does pass through the placenta into your baby’s bloodstream; however, this is only when taken intravenously or in high doses. When taking this orally – especially in tablet form to help stimulate milk production (if breastfeeding) – very little passes over to the unborn child because most of it gets broken down by enzymes in the digestive system before ever passing through intestinal walls where they can be absorbed. This means that if you are expecting a child and need treatment with oxytocin for whatever reason then talk to your doctor about alternative medications such as Pitocin/Terbutaline which also stimulates uterine contractions but without crossing over into fetal circulation like Oxytocins do during pregnancy.


One of the most commonly known and studied hormones in neuroscience is oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that increases trust, empathy, emotional stability, and generosity. It can also help decrease anxiety and fear – both important traits for successful marketing campaigns. So does this mean you need more hugs? Not exactly (though we’re not going to say no). Oxytocin releases in the brain when we are thinking about or doing something that makes us feel good. This means you can probably get your oxytocin fix by simply watching a video of puppies playing together, seeing an inspiring speech on TV, listening to music that moves you or reading quotes from people who inspire you. Oxytocin also helps with ailments such as autism, social anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and even PTSD.

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