Anatomy and physiology

Functions of oxytocin hormone in love, lust and labour

Functions of oxytocin Posted On


Generally, hormones play a crucial role in our lives. But today, I will talk about an exceptional hormone, i.e., oxytocin. In addition, we will discuss some essential aspects and functions of oxytocin hormone. 

Why oxytocin is exceptional!

Because it releases in special situations during sex, love, delivery of baby, and breastfeeding. 

Suppose you are in a relationship and you love your life partner; you don’t want to hurt her/him. In this situation, oxytocin is responsible for this strong love with your partner or family.

Strong love or trust with your family – Oxytocin is responsible

But sometimes, you want to have extramarital affairs. In this condition, when you do multiple romances with others, then the dopamine hormone is the main culprit.

Extramarital affairs – Dopamine responsible

So, this oxytocin hormone is also known as the “Love hormone.” 

In this post, I will explore the vital functions of oxytocin hormone. Let’s start with the basics. 


What is the oxytocin hormone? Where is oxytocin made?

Oxytocin is basically a neuropeptide hormone. It acts as a chemical signal and is released in extraordinary conditions like reproductive behavior, childbirth, milk production, etc. 

The brain naturally produces it. Usually, it is made in the hypothalamus region of the brain and stored in the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland. 

So, the oxytocin is secreted by the posterior pituitary gland. 

Your hypothalamus has a unique nucleus – paraventricular nucleus (PVN), and this nucleus controls the secretion of oxytocin hormone. 

functions of oxytocin


When is oxytocin released in females? What are the significant functions of oxytocin in females?

Oxytocin has a major role in certain conditions –

1. Role of oxytocin in labour or childbirth or uterine contraction

Oxytocin came from the Greek word “Oxutokia.” It means “sudden delivery or quick birth.” 

As per study 2014, oxytocin hormone levels increase as pregnancy advances, especially at the end of pregnancy

In females, it has the most prominent role in the birthing process. You would be thinking – How?

Suppose you’re pregnant and your baby is ready to come out into the world.

In this case, your cervix (lower part of the uterus/womb) stretches and sends a signal to the hypothalamus via neurons. 

The hypothalamus helps to release oxytocin hormones into the bloodstream. Then this oxytocin binds to the uterus GPCRs (G protein-coupled receptors). It increases the intracellular calcium level in the myometrium smooth muscles (middle layer of the uterus) of the womb. 

Meanwhile, it also increases prostaglandin production (especially PGE2 and PGF2 alpha) in the uterus. These calcium ions and prostaglandin help to increase contraction in the uterine muscles. 

Oxytocin powerfully contracts the uterus and opens the way of the cervix. By this process, it pushes the baby out. 

functions of oxytocin

2. Role of oxytocin in breastfeeding or milk production

Once the baby is born, oxytocin has a significant role in breastfeeding too. It helps in the ejection of milk from the breast. 

functions of oxytocin

A review study published in Journal Hormone Research 2003 has shown a prominent role of oxytocin in triggering milk transport from the glandular area. 

You can imagine there is a bunch of grapes inside your breast. Like grapes, there are special cells called mammary alveoli present inside your breast. These alveoli help in making milk by prolactin hormone. They are surrounded by myoepithelium cells

There are also some lactiferous ducts (like branches of grapes) in your breast. By these ducts, the milk comes out via nipples. 

But how oxytocin actually works in breastfeeding!

When your baby starts suckling, it activates the specific type of mechanoreceptors around the areola. 

Then it sends a signal to your brain and triggers the release of oxytocin. This oxytocin act on myoepithelium cells of the breast, which increases intracellular calcium level. 

As a result, it increases contraction and squeezes the lactiferous ducts.

Eventually, it ejects the milk from the breast that is called Milk Let Down Reflex (Milk Ejection Reflex).

It means your milk is ready to flow. So, this is one of the significant functions of oxytocin in lactation and the mammary gland. 


3. Function of oxytocin after delivery or postpartum 

A study published in 2014 explored the oxytocin level in pregnancy and postpartum state. In this study, it was found a significant role of oxytocin after delivery. 

Oxytocin hormone also helps control postpartum bleeding or hemorrhage by closing uterine blood vessels. Moreover, the other function of oxytocin is to help expel the placenta after the baby comes out. 

functions of oxytocin


4. Role of oxytocin in menstrual cycle or non-pregnant uterus

An article published in the European Journal of Obstetrics; Gynaecology & Reproductive Biology 1981 suggested that oxytocin has some role in the menstrual cycle, especially in the ovulation process

In this study, high oxytocin concentration was found during ovulation. It means the oxytocin hormone helps and stimulates the process of ovulation. 


Is oxytocin a love hormone? Why is oxytocin called love hormone?

When you start to fall in love, you feel well-being, happiness, pleasurable, etc.

Your heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tone may increase. These activities may be due to some hormones/chemicals like noradrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine.

As time passes, if you really get involved in the relationship and stay together, oxytocin starts to release and make a strong emotional bond. 

Whenever you touch, kiss, and hug your romantic partner. Oxytocin starts releasing from the brain in both of them. Even it is also released when you make eye to eye contact with your partner. 

Your oxytocin level may be extremely high when there is an orgasm. It also helps to elevate your mood and makes you feel more attached to your partner. 

Usually, females release more oxytocin as compared to males. That is why usually, females get more strongly bonded with men. It develops emotional bonding between you and your romantic partner. 

It also helps in creating relationship building, trust, and empathy. Moreover, it makes a strong bond of love between a child and mother called a maternal bond.

So, this is the reason we fall in love because of oxytocin. 


Do males have oxytocin? What are the functions of oxytocin in males?

Oxytocin also has a vital role in the ejaculation process. It acts on erectile tissue (corpus spongiosum and corpus cavernosum) of the penis and helps sperm transport. 

When you have sexual arousal, oxytocin stimulates vas deference by the sympathetic nerve. As a result, the contraction of smooth muscles of vas deferens.

Eventually, it helps to expel sperm out. Hence, oxytocin may play a significant role in the sexual orgasmic response, especially if you have an infertility problem. 

functions of oxytocin


What are the functions of oxytocin injection in the human body?

Oxytocin also acts like a drug. It is available in injection form with the brand name of Pitocin, which is used to induce labour if it has not been secreted naturally. 

According to an updated review article 2021, it is mainly preferred in I.V. (intravenous) drip method, but it may be used in I.M. (intramuscular) in some cases. 

As per this study, oxytocin injection is generally used in certain conditions like – 

  • In cases of delayed and complicated labour. 
  • Also indicated for incomplete and unavoidable abortions.
  • If you are having to continue uterine bleeding after delivery. 



Now you can imagine how does oxytocin exert importance in our lives. 

We have seen oxytocin hormone has a major role in 3L – Love, Lust & Labour.  

The primary functions of oxytocin are to help in the delivery of a baby. It starts to release when you conceive a baby, and it progressively increases to 3rd trimester. Later, it releases in large amounts after stimulation of the nipples. 

Moreover, it has an essential role during sexual intercourse and when you do genuinely love your partner. 

So, it is a mysterious hormone, especially in female reproduction. 

I hope this information will be helpful to you. If you found this post (functions of oxytocin) to be informative, share it on social media.



Q1. What does oxytocin do?

Ans. Oxytocin is an endocrine hormone that releases in special conditions like love (social bonding), lust (sexual desire), & labour (during delivery & breastfeeding). 

Q2. What are the functions of oxytocin and vasopressin?

Ans. Oxytocin and vasopressin are both secretes from the posterior pituitary gland, but they have different functions. Oxytocin has a major role in labour and breastfeeding. While vasopressin controls blood pressure regulation because it acts as an antidiuretic hormone (ADH). 


Q3. Can we take oxytocin to enhance breast size? 

Ans. No. Oxytocin is responsible to secretes milk from your breast. Estrogen hormone helps to enhance breast size. 


Q4. What would happen if the hormone oxytocin refuses to secret during the delivery of the child?

Ans. If oxytocin hormone does not release naturally at time delivery. In this condition, your doctor may give you Pitocin injection (oxytocin injection) to speed up the childbirth. 


Sources –

1. Oxytocin during the initial stages of romantic attachment…

2. Pharmacological role of oxytocin

3. Oxytocin: its mechanism of action and receptor signaling in the myometrium

4. The orgasmic history of oxytocin: Love, lust, and labor

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One thought on “Functions of oxytocin hormone in love, lust and labour
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