The Many Benefits of Oxytocin
The “love hormone” oxytocin isn’t just for the bedroom.
Have you ever heard of the “love hormone?” Oxytocin has gotten its reputation as the love hormone because it enhances sex. However, it turns out that oxytocin has many benefits, both in and out of the bedroom.
Specifically, oxytocin does the following:
Improves Sexual Desire: At normal levels, oxytocin helps create the desire for contact with your partner. More oxytocin is released during foreplay, especially in response to skin-to-skin contact. This causes a cascade of reactions that support sexual arousal, including the release of endorphins and testosterone. Nerves in erogenous zones become sensitized, and contact causes even more oxytocin to flood the body, heightening sexual arousal and desire still further.
Triggers Powerful Orgasms: Men need 5 times as much oxytocin as normal in their systems to reach orgasm. Women need a whole lot more. When high levels of oxytocin are present, genital nerves will fire spontaneously, causing orgasm. As a consequence, oxytocin treatment can be very helpful for women who have trouble reaching orgasm, as well as for those who want stronger orgasms.
Boosts Contentment, Trust, and Charity: Higher oxytocin levels are linked with improved feelings of happiness, well-being, and trust. In one experiment conducted at Claremont Graduate University, researchers tested oxytocin levels in 60 women and asked them to fill out a survey about their general disposition and satisfaction with life. Then, a stranger gave each woman a $24 gift, which she had the option to share with others. The women who had the highest levels of oxytocin were the most likely to share their gift with others and report a high level of contentment with their lives. They also had more sex with fewer partners, indicating more long-lasting relationships and a greater capacity for trust.
Relieves Anxiety: Oxytocin can act on the amygdala (a crucial brain area related to emotional processing) to help relieve general social anxiety. In one study, researchers showed individuals pictures of threatening or fearful faces and measured the participants’ brain activity with functional MRI scans. Normally, patients with social anxiety would display very limited interaction between the amygdala and other parts of the brain, which indicates a high baseline stress level. But when the patients were given oxytocin treatment before the scan, they showed increased amygdala connectivity and reduced stress.
Interested in Learning More About Oxytocin?
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