Oxytocin Hormone: Functions In The Body, Ways To Increase

Table of contents:

Oxytocin Hormone: Functions In The Body, Ways To Increase
Oxytocin Hormone: Functions In The Body, Ways To Increase

Video: Oxytocin Hormone: Functions In The Body, Ways To Increase

Video: Oxytocin Hormone: Functions In The Body, Ways To Increase
Video: 2-Minute Neuroscience: Oxytocin 2023, May

The hormone oxytocin, its functions in the body and its use in medicine

The content of the article:

  1. Where is it produced
  2. The hormone oxytocin: functions
  3. Application in medicine

    1. pharmachologic effect
    2. Indications
    3. Contraindications
    4. Method of administration and dosage
    5. Side effect
    6. special instructions
  4. Video

Any person is familiar with such feelings as affection, love, trust, happiness, but at the same time few suspect that the hormone oxytocin is responsible for their manifestation.

Oxytocin has many important functions in the body, including influencing human behavior
Oxytocin has many important functions in the body, including influencing human behavior

Oxytocin has many important functions in the body, including influencing human behavior

Where is it produced

At the very base of the brain is a formation called the hypothalamus. It is in its cells that oxytocin is produced. Then this substance enters the posterior pituitary gland through the portal vessels, where it is deposited and, as necessary, is released into the blood.

In the blood, the concentration of the hormone usually increases in the evening.

The hormone oxytocin: functions

The hormone has an effect on many systems of the human body, primarily on the following:

  • endocrine;
  • heart;
  • nervous;
  • digestive.

Mechanism of influence:

Function Description
Effects on breastfeeding

During breastfeeding, the hormone causes the myoepithelial cells surrounding the mammary ducts to contract, which stimulates the passage of milk into the subareolar ducts and its release from the nipple.

Effect on uterine contractions Promotes an increase in the tone of the myometrium, increases its contractility. Affects the contractions of the cervix during labor. An increase in the concentration of oxytocin in the mother's blood during breastfeeding causes painful uterine contractions in the early postpartum period, contributing to the speedy involution of the uterus.
Effect on the organs of the digestive system Increases the tone of the smooth muscles of the hollow organs of the gastrointestinal tract, thereby increasing their peristalsis.
Effect on the organs of the urinary system Slightly reduces urine output. At high blood levels, a person can develop hyponatremia.
Impact on sexual behavior

During orgasm, the concentration of oxytocin increases in the lymph and blood of both women and men. Based on this fact, experts have made the assumption that this hormone affects sexual arousal.

Effects on the cardiovascular system At the stage of embryonic development, the fetus plays a role in the differentiation of cardiomyocytes.
Influence on the endocrine system Under some circumstances, it can suppress the synthesis of adrenocorticotropin and cortisol, act as an antagonist of vasopressin.
Effects on the muscular system When injected, it increases the speed of regenerative processes in old muscles. It is currently considered by doctors as an effective treatment for age-related muscular atrophy.
Influence on the psycho-emotional sphere

Experts call oxytocin the attachment hormone. This is due to its influence on certain areas of the brain that control psycho-emotional behavior. Under the influence of the hormone, feelings of anxiety and fear decrease, trust in a partner increases, and forms a relationship between a mother and her newborn child.

What else is the hormone oxytocin responsible for? The results of some clinical studies have revealed other of its functions, which may allow the use of this hormone and the treatment of a number of diseases:

  1. Anorexia. The scientific journal Psychoneuroendocrinology published an article by Professor Janet Treasure several years ago. In it, the author talked about her experience of using oxytocin in the complex therapy of anorexia in several young girls under the age of 20. The results showed that the persistent aversion to food in the patients disappeared within 15 days from the start of treatment, and after two months they did not show signs of anorexia.
  2. Autism. In 2003 and 2007, two independent clinical studies were conducted. Their results showed that inhalation of the hormone improves the expression of emotions in autistic patients, helping with social adaptation.
  3. Alcoholism. Australian scientists have found that the injection of high doses of oxytocin makes rats immune to the effects of alcohol. Further research is underway to investigate this mechanism.

Application in medicine

In medical practice, oxytocin is used for intravenous or intramuscular administration. The drug is available in ampoules, each of which contains 1.0 ml (5 U) oxytocin.

pharmachologic effect

  1. Increases the permeability of cell membranes for calcium ions, thereby increasing the tone of the myometrium, causing contractions similar to natural labor pains.
  2. Improves the separation of breast milk due to the contraction of myoepithelial cells.
  3. Relaxes the smooth muscles of the blood vessels, improves blood flow in the vessels of the brain, coronary and renal vessels. In this case, the level of blood pressure usually remains unchanged. However, with intravenous administration of a concentrated solution, it may temporarily decrease, which is accompanied by an increase in cardiac output and heart rate.
  4. When administered intravenously, it affects the tone of the muscles of the uterus almost instantly. The action lasts about an hour. When administered intramuscularly, the action begins in 5-7 minutes and lasts up to three hours.


The indications for the appointment of oxytocin are:

  • childbirth at long periods of pregnancy if it is necessary to terminate pregnancy early due to premature discharge of amniotic fluid, Rh-conflict, gestosis, intrauterine fetal death;
  • labor induction during post-term pregnancy (over 42 weeks);
  • treatment of primary or secondary birth weakness;
  • treatment and prevention of hypotonic uterine bleeding after abortion, cesarean section, natural childbirth;
  • delayed postpartum involution of the uterus;
  • incomplete or failed abortion.
Oxytocin is widely used in medicine
Oxytocin is widely used in medicine

Oxytocin is widely used in medicine


The drug is contraindicated in the following cases:

  • individual intolerance;
  • impossibility of vaginal delivery (narrow pelvis, transverse position of the fetus, placenta previa);
  • severe gestosis;
  • obstetric sepsis;
  • arterial hypertension;
  • heart or kidney failure;
  • excessive stretching of the uterus.

Relative contraindications include:

  • the presence of a scar on the uterus;
  • premature birth;
  • multiple pregnancy;
  • uterine hypertonicity;
  • carcinoma of the cervix.

Oxytocin is able to penetrate into breast milk, therefore, when it is prescribed, breastfeeding women are advised to interrupt breastfeeding during treatment.

Method of administration and dosage

The drug is administered intramuscularly or intravenously. The dose is selected by the doctor for each patient individually.

To excite labor and stimulate its activity, oxytocin is administered intravenously. The woman in labor is closely monitored (monitoring the fetal heart rate, uterine contractions). When the first signs of fetal distress or uterine hyperactivity appear, the infusion is stopped immediately and the patient is allowed to breathe with humidified oxygen.

Side effect

The introduction of oxytocin can be accompanied by the development of a number of side effects:

  • from the reproductive system - uterine spasm, uterine rupture;
  • on the part of the coagulation system - hypoprothrombinemia, afibrinogenemia, thrombocytopenia;
  • on the part of the cardiovascular system - arterial hypertension or hypotension, ventricular premature beats, shock;
  • from the gastrointestinal tract - nausea, vomiting;
  • on the part of the water-salt balance - pronounced hyperhydration (with prolonged infusion of large doses of the drug), convulsions, coma;
  • on the part of the immune system - allergic reactions, bronchospasm;
  • on the part of the fetus - retinal hemorrhages, cardiac arrhythmias (ventricular extrasystole, tachycardia, bradycardia), asphyxia.

special instructions

Before prescribing oxytocin, the doctor compares the positive effect of treatment with the possibility of developing side effects (very small). The drug should not be administered to women in labor until the insertion of the fetal head into the pelvic cavity.

An important condition for oxytocin therapy is that it should be carried out only in a hospital setting under the close supervision of an experienced physician with mandatory monitoring of the following parameters:

  • frequency and strength of coiled contractions;
  • the frequency and rhythm of the fetal heart rate;
  • blood pressure in a woman in labor.

When prescribing oxytocin, it is necessary to take into account the possibility of the patient developing afibrinogenemia, an increase in the volume of blood loss.


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Elena Minkina
Elena Minkina

Elena Minkina Doctor anesthesiologist-resuscitator About the author

Education: graduated from the Tashkent State Medical Institute, specializing in general medicine in 1991. Repeatedly passed refresher courses.

Work experience: anesthesiologist-resuscitator of the city maternity complex, resuscitator of the hemodialysis department.

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