Oxytocin affecting human behaviour

Oxytocin has been called the love hormone, or “feel-good hormone”. It creates human bonds, and is secreted when people are close, touching, talking, hugging…

Oxytocin is secreted when people are close physically and creates bonds between parents and children when touching. Oxytocin is part of human sexuality, and loving bonds between couples. Oxytocin affects memory and cognition. Oxytocin is secreted when the baby nurses the mother’s breasts, and creates strong maternal behaviour. Truly a jack of all trades-kind-of-hormone!

A possible action mechanism is for oxytocin to lower anxiety levels and diminish the capacity to be slightly suspicious of other people. You become more trusting, and somewhat more subdued energy wise. It has been claimed oxytocin erases painful experiences, such as the memory of labour pains.

New research shows that strong such oxytocin effects on the brain can be seen in women who were given synthetic oxytocin during birth giving. They became more trusting than a control group who gave birth without synthetic oxytocin.

You could argue that trust is a fine human quality, but we do need it in moderation. There is also a need to be able to say no and to remember who has hurt you and could do so again.

Synthetic oxytocin is today a standard treatment during dystocia and prolonged labour. For some deliveries this works powerfully-for others not. There is a growing discussion about how synthetic oxytocin affects women during birth and after. This also includes a debate about whether it is ethical to administer a hormone with such strong psychological effects, without the women’s consent either before or during labour.