The hormone oxytocin is known for its role in the female reproductive system and the process of birth and breastfeeding. However, this hormone, also known as the love hormone, has a much more complex role. Let’s get to know the oxytocin hormone further and its role in the body.
In the human body, the hormone oxytocin is produced in the hypothalamus of the brain and released through the pituitary gland which is located below it.
Oxytocin is often referred to as the love hormone because it is associated with feelings of love, affection, good emotions, and attachment between humans. Although identical to women, this hormone is apparently also owned by men.
The Role of the Oxytocin Hormone
The role of oxytocin is so broad in influencing human behavior and interactions, such as orgasm, social closeness, and maternal attitudes. This hormone also plays a role in the process of childbirth and breastfeeding. For a more complete explanation, let’s look at the various roles of the following oxytocin hormone:
1. Preparing for the birth of a baby
Ahead of labor, a woman’s body will produce the hormone oxytocin to stimulate uterine contractions. This hormone also increases the production of prostaglandins, so that the contractions are more intense and affect the opening process.
Because of this effect, doctors or midwives sometimes give synthetic oxytocin ( pitocin ) for labor induction. Oxytocin may also be injected to help expel the placenta and reduce bleeding.
After giving birth, a woman’s body will continue to produce oxytocin until her uterus returns to its pre-pregnancy size.
2. Launching breast milk
In nursing mothers, oxytocin triggers the ‘ letdown reflex ‘, which is a tingling sensation in the breast that causes milk to flow out of the nipple. Therefore, the hormone oxytocin plays an important role in the production of breast milk and the breastfeeding process.
3. Relieves stress in new moms
When the baby sucks on its mother’s nipple, the nerves in the mother’s breast send a signal to the brain to release oxytocin. In addition to stimulating milk production, this oxytocin hormone can also relieve stress and reduce anxiety in mothers.
4. Strengthens the bond between mother and baby
Several studies show that the hormone oxytocin also plays a role in growing feelings of love and affection between mother and baby. The study states that mothers who have higher levels of the hormone oxytocin tend to be more active and take care of their babies.
The hormone oxytocin is also said to play a role in stimulating physical touch between mothers and fathers with their babies, so that the bond between parents and their babies becomes stronger.
5. Cultivate feelings of attraction to others
What happens in the brain when someone is in love with another person? This question has a complex answer. However, several studies have revealed that when a person begins to like someone else, there is an increase in hormone levels in his brain. One of these hormones is oxytocin.
Oxytocin also plays a role in generating empathy and loyalty and increasing trust in one another. This is what ultimately contributes to the longevity of the relationship.
Whereas in sexual intercourse, physical touch such as hugging, kissing, and touching a partner will encourage the release of oxytocin which plays a role in the process of erection and orgasm. In addition, oxytocin also supports the movement of sperm towards the egg.
In the medical field, oxytocin is used to reduce bleeding after childbirth, reduce pain, to additional therapy to treat depression.
Lack or excess of the hormone oxytocin in the body may occur, but research has not found any danger from this condition.
However, there is some research that says that excess oxytocin in men can increase the risk of prostate gland enlargement, while a lack of the hormone oxytocin can increase the risk of depression.
The hormone oxytocin, whether produced naturally or synthetically, has been shown to have many roles for human health. If you have further questions about the benefits of the hormone oxytocin, don’t hesitate to consult a doctor.