Oxytocin hormone explained

Oxytocin is a hormone produced in the hypothalamus and is secreted into the bloodstream by the posterior pituitary gland and acts as a neurotransmitter. Secretion depends on electrical activity of neurons in the hypothalamus.
Oxytocin has been best known for its roles in female reproduction. It is released in large amounts during labor, and after stimulation of the nipples. It is a facilitator for childbirth and breastfeeding. However, recent studies have begun to investigate oxytocin’s role in various behaviors, including orgasm, social recognition, bonding, and maternal behaviours.
While oxytocin is typically linked to warm, fuzzy feelings and shown in some research to lower stress and anxiety, that’s not always the case. Recent research makes it seem unlikely that the hormone is directly connected to relaxation or psychological stability. One study found high levels of both stress and oxytocin in rodents that were separated from their group, while another discovered higher levels of oxytocin and cortisol among women who had “gaps in their social relationships” and negative relations with their partner.
endorphins, Oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin are often referred to as our “happy hormones”.
When you’re attracted to another person, your brain releases dopamine, your serotonin levels increase, and oxytocin and endorphins are produced. This causes you to feel a surge of positive emotion. Even playing with your dog can cause an oxytocin surge, according to a 2009 study published in the journal Hormones and Behavior.
It took no time for oxytocin to acquire fancy names such as “the bonding hormone,” “the cuddle hormone” and even “the love hormone”.
Sexual activity has been found to stimulate the release of oxytocin, and it appears to have a role in erection and orgasm. The reason for this is not fully understood, but, in women, it may be that the increased uterine motility may help sperm to reach their destination. Some have proposed a correlation between the concentration of oxytocin and the intensity of orgasm.
Oxytocin production and secretion is controlled by a positive feedback mechanism where release of the hormone causes an action that stimulates more of its own release.
This small nine amino acid peptide is now believed to be involved in a wide variety of physiological and pathological functions such as uterine contraction, milk ejection, maternal behavior, social bonding, stress and probably many more, which makes oxytocin and its receptor potential candidates as targets for drug therapy. From an innocuous agent as an aid in labor and delivery, oxytocin has come a long way in being touted as the latest party drug. The hormone of labor during the course of the last 100 years has had multiple orgasms to be the hormone of love.
Social bonding is essential to species survival since it favors reproduction, protection against predators and environmental changes, and furthers brain development. Exclusion from the group results in individual physical and mental disorders and leads ultimately to death, both in animal models and in primitive human tribes. Oxytocin and its receptors appear to hold the leading position among the candidates for the substance of “happiness.” If not “happiness,” at least it now seems to be an important brain compound in building trust, which is necessary in developing emotional relationships, a process also referred to as social bonding.
A recent study by Kosfeld published in Nature has demonstrated that in people playing a money game, a nasal spray of oxytocin raised their trust, even in a stranger. Such findings do bring some hope in the treatment of social disorders such as phobia.
One review of research into oxytocin states that the hormone’s impact on “pro-social behaviors” and emotional responses contributes to relaxation, trust, and psychological stability.
Brain oxytocin also appears to reduce stress responses, including anxiety. These effects have been seen in a number of species.
in 2007, in a study Hollander et al reported that oxytocin helped autistic adults retain the ability to evaluate the emotional significance of speech intonation. More work is definitely required to investigate the role of oxytocin in autism, but present work is definitely showing a ray of hope in finding a role for oxytocin in treatment of autism.
Researchers in one 2012 study found that couples in the first stages of romantic attachment had significantly higher levels of oxytocin than their unattached counterparts.
High and low oxytocin levels are possible, but research has not yet found any implications of these conditions. Men with high levels of oxytocin sometimes develop benign prostatic hyperplasia(enlarging of the prostate gland). This condition can cause urinary complaints. A lack of oxytocin can prevent the milk letdown reflex and make breastfeeding difficult. Low oxytocin levels have also been linked to depression, but using oxytocin to treat mental health conditions has not yet been studied sufficiently.