Is Oxytocin Really the Love Drug?

The hugging hormone

In Brief:

Oxytocin is a hormone produced in your body to encourage emotional attachment with others. In women, oxytocin is responsible in part for the bond new mothers feel with their newborns, also kick-starting lactation (milk production). In men, oxytocin also facilitates bonding, it is produced on a lesser level but nonetheless is still incredibly important. During cuddling kissing and intercourse, men produce significant amounts that greatly affect their behavior.  It is not surprising that oxytocin is called the ‘Hugging hormone’ Crucially as men get older the body produces less oxytocin which can have dramatic effects on your physical well-being and emotional mindset.

What is Oxytocin?

Oxytocin has to be one of the most important hormones to all of humanity. This is a bold statement but it is one of the building blocks to emotional attachment, relationships, sexual reproduction, childbirth, and love.

Usually associated with women, where oxytocin plays an important role in labor and milk production (lactation). Oxytocin is also present in men where it helps with male reproduction and in the production of testosterone in the testicles.

When you get the rush of excitement in meeting the love of your life, oxytocin is being released in your brain and into your bloodstream, organs, and spinal cord. It binds with receptors around your body giving you that unforgettable sense of euphoria, essentially influencing how you feel towards that person and ‘in love.’ What is super cool is the fact that the simple act of spooning (if you’re naked it helps) signals your body to naturally release oxytocin helping you both achieve a more loving bond. This fact isn’t surprising especially when doctors and midwives encourage skin to skin contact with newborns to promote bonding.

Accidental discovery

In an accidental discovery at a doctor’s practice in San Diego, they found an unexpected side effect of the so-called “Love Hormone” oxytocin. They were treating a 32-year-old patient who was diagnosed with ADD who also fit the criteria for Asperger’. His medication for ADD and antidepressants were proving ineffective for the patient’s social anxieties, so he agreed to an “off label” trial of an oxytocin nasal spray.

Not expecting any improvements in his sexual function they discovered a 46% overall improvement. Using a standard measurable scale (Arizona Sexual Experience Scale) it is reported he experienced more desire, a boost in arousal, improved erections, and even better orgasms. Critically he reported a desire to be closer and more affectionate to his wife. More incredibly when the patient forgot to renew his prescription, the positive effects soon totally disappeared.

Mike Wyllie a member of the team that discovered and developed Viagra ® (Sildenafil) commented that drugs based on Oxytocin could have “Blockbuster” potential.

There have been many studies into Oxytocin’s numerous benefits on the body and your mind so what’s all the fuss about?

Another study at Zurich university by psychologist Beate Ditzen into Oxytocin and quarreling couples uncovered fascinating results into the effect it has in strengthening positive behavior. It seems that a dose of oxytocin actively reduced the levels of the stress hormone Cortisol in rowing couples.

Ditzen observed 47 couples aged between 20 and 50 in a laboratory setting. They were asked to discuss a subject likely to cause a disagreement. Some were given a dose of oxytocin and others a placebo nasal spray. The couples were then filmed and analyzed by a special coding device. Their Cortisol levels were also monitored to record stress levels during the confrontation. Positive relationship markers such as listening, laughing, and mutual confirmation were all assed alongside negative markers such as criticism, interruptions and disrespecting each other.

After assessing the results amazingly couples who were given the hormone oxytocin behaved in a far more positive manner than those who took the placebo. Ditzen claimed “Couples that received oxytocin behaved significantly more positively than couples with the placebo. Oxytocin prolongs the duration of positive behavior with negative behavior. Additionally, the cortisol values of couples who received oxytocin were lower in the conflict group than those of the placebo group”

These results were pretty much stacked in favor of Oxytocin having an incredibly positive impact on how couples reacted to each other during an argument. Ditzen went on to conclude. “Oxytocin might be a possible biological candidate to explain how close relationships and particularly couple relationships have positive effects on our health”

What are the Benefits of Oxytocin?

Oxytocin promotes bonding

In one fascinating study looking at children living in orphanages in Russia and Romania. They noted where children received limited physical contact with adults, they were not capable of producing significant levels of oxytocin to promote the feeling of trust, love, and bonding. This significantly interfered with their ability to go on to bond with adoptive parents in the future.

The study involved 18 children who had spent on average the first 18 months of their lives in orphanages before being adopted into well-off US families, comparing them to 21 children born into the same privilege.

The children sat on their adult’s lap the played an interactive computer game designed to promote child-adult interactions such as tickling and whispering. Researchers measured hormone levels of the children before and after the game. The children who hadn’t been adopted showed a significant increase in oxytocin levels whereas the adopted children showed no increase at all even though interestingly the adopted children had been with their adoptive families for an average of 3 years.

Oxytocin promotes monogamy 

Monogamy is pretty uncommon amongst mammals, with a few exceptions such as prairie voles and beavers. Humans, however, tend to form long term relationships possibly because of how long it takes to raise our children. Another factor could be the ability to produce oxytocin.

Oxytocin activates our brains ‘reward system’ making us feel good when we are with our partners. This is a very similar reaction in the brain as when drugs are taken, in both love and taking drugs, pleasure receptors in the brain are triggered. This could be why when a loving relationship ends or the drug ‘high’ passes people feel mourning or a craving respectively basically, you are in a state of withdrawal.

Oxytocin boosts sexual satisfaction 

This is a bold claim but one that some research does back up. In a study in Germany 29, long term couples were given an oxytocin nasal spray or a placebo before having sex in their own homes. Afterward, they were asked to complete a satisfaction survey about how good the sex was, and their feelings towards their partners. Those who were given the oxytocin (notably the men) reported more intense orgasms as well as a greater sense of euphoria afterward. Some of the women also stated they had an increased willingness to share their desires and greater empathy with their partners.

Oxytocin reduces stress and anxiety 

In another study, a group of rats was divided into two groups. One-half were given an oxytocin blocking’s substance and the others were given nothing. Then both groups were forced to swim. Those with the oxytocin blocker spent more time frantically swimming to find safety than those without, who spent more time floating in the water.

This may suggest that oxytocin encourages better coping strategies and has a calming effect, preventing a stressful response. This could mean that in humans oxytocin could potentially help treat stress-related illnesses such as anxiety and depression.

In similar experiments on humans in stressful situations such as job interviews, it showed oxytocin was effective in reducing anxiety, stress levels, and increased social behavior and communication. So it does seem that oxytocin can reduce stress and anxiety increasing, personal connections that are central to personal, emotional and physical well-being.

Interestingly there also reports stating that this may be the case in sociable situations, but for those who are lonely for example, oxytocin could have the opposite effect, creating stronger feelings of longing and craving personal social interaction.

How Do You get Oxytocin?

Oxytocin is available from Male Excel where one of our doctors will asses you and prescribe your medication. It is shipped directly from one of our third-party pharmacies discreetly to your door. We supply a sublingual tablet that simply melts under the tongue. The area under our tongue is full of tissue, tiny capillaries and veins which are highly absorbent, the tablet melts and is easily taken into the bloodstream. Oxytocin cannot be taken orally because it is not absorbed via the stomach, therefore injections creams and sublingual medications are the only options. Sublingual medication is an incredibly efficient alternative to painful injections and a highly effective way to administer the medication.

 

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