Love is in the air and I thought we should honour this day by talking about what the streets all around the world are filled with!
No, not flowers silly.
As a doula, this hormone is my friend, buddy, compatriate, wing man...you get the picture. Oxytocin brings about those beautiful, strong surges, bringing baby closer to mama as it works harmoniously with the female body.
Here are 14 interesting facts about the “love hormone”, Oxytocin.
1. Oxytocin has been nicknamed the “love hormone,” the “hug hormone,” the “cuddle chemical,” and even the “moral molecule.”
2. The oxytocin effect was first discovered by Sir Henry H. Dale who found that an extract from the human pituitary gland contracted the uterus of a pregnant cat. By the way, the hormone, later identified as oxytocin, was also found unchanged in every mammalian species.
3. In 1909, an English physician, William Blair-Bell noted that this posterior pituitary extract (which he called infundibulin) could also control postpartum bleeding.
4. It was Parke-Davis scientists who managed to successfully extract oxytocin from a second active substance in the posterior pituitary and coined the term in 1928.
5. Oxytocin is the neurohormone of mammals and it’s principle functions are to stimulate contractions in the uterus during labour, to stimulate the ejection of milk and to promote maternal nurturing behaviour.
6. It is produced in the hypothalamus and then transferred to the pituitary gland where it is released into the bloodstream. Oxytocin receptors are going on cells throughout the body and oxytocin levels are found to be higher during both stressful and socially bonding experiences. Here’s a cute, quick vid on some basic endocrinology and oxytocin!
7. The interest in insulin and diabetes led to the discovery of oxytocin as both are posterior pituitary hormones.
8. Endocrinologists, though not regarded as romantics when compared with artists, playwrights and poets, may be responsible for the greatest progress in the understanding of love in humanity. Through their study of oxytocin injected in prairie voles, they have raised the controversial possibility that hormonal manipulation may be the future to love, guaranteed.
9. The hormone has also been found to be highly contextual in nature. It can trigger positive behavior in some settings, but negative ones like distrust, favoritism, envy, and schadenfreude in others.
10. Other findings support the growing idea that oxytocin makes animals pay more attention to social information.
11. Another positive effect of oxytocin is anxiety relief.
12. During labor, oxytocin is responsible for causing contractions in the uterus. Oxytocin levels continue to increase throughout the effacement and dilation of the cervix to prepare for the birth of a baby. This leads to more frequent and more intense contractions which help to keep labour progressing. After the birth of the baby, the presence of Oxytocin prevents postpartum hemorrhaging through the contraction of the uterus. Oxytocin also plays a key role in the bond between a mother and her baby.
13. Women can produce more oxytocin by hugging (for at least 20 seconds), sexual activity, social activity and nipple stimulation.
14. Studies have also shown that oxytocin may make men feel more monogamous. Increased levels of oxytocin in men have also shown to make fathers bond and interact more closely with their children.
Sending all those warm, fuzzy feelings out to everyone reading!
Happy Valentine’s Day ya’ll and if flowers are waaayyy too expensive, give the gift of Oxytocin!
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