Oxytocin is called the “love hormone”, the “social hormone”, the “cuddle hormone”, and the “happy hormone”. Certainly, it has powerful effects on your relationships with other people and new research is showing oxytocin hormone deficiency is related to a number of chronic health problems. There are other hormones that effect mood and healthy aging and that is why we always try to balance multiple hormones. Learn more about balancing PRogesterone, Oxytocin, Testosterone, Estrogen, Cortisol, and Thyroid hormones: PROTECT Program Natural Hormones Replacement Therapy (NHRT)
Mood Enhancement & Oxytocin Hormone Deficiency
Women who are able to have multiple orgasms during sex have much higher levels of oxytocin in their blood and have more intense orgasms.1 Oxytocin can help make you more open to sex, and with appropriate stimulation, help you become aroused more easily. Some female patients have reported an increase in the number of multiple orgasms (usually within 3 hours of taking oxytocin).
Oxytocin – The Love Hormone
The symptoms and diseases related to oxytocin deficiency include the following:
Oxytocin Deficiency & Disease
Hormones are a complex subject. The production of oxytocin in your body is also complicated. Oxytocin helps you connect with others and its decline after menopause is discussed in detail in the book “The Female Brain” by Dr. Louann Brizendine. This decline in oxytocin can put stress on your relationships and the research shows that this decline may cause multiple health problems.
Other hormones enhance the creation of oxytocin in your body. Estrogen, thyroid hormones, and dopamine (a brain neurotransmitter that is low in people with Parkinson’s disease) decline with aging and these hormones all stimulate the synthesis of oxytocin. The number of nerves in the brain that make oxytocin do not decline with aging but these major stimulants of oxytocin do decrease as you age.19
Your Oxytocin Hormone Production Declines As You Age
Your mother produced oxytocin when she nursed you. She also made oxytocin when she heard you cry.20,21 Breast implants are concerning because they damage the connection between the nipples and the brain and can lead to decreased oxytocin making abilities.
Other factors that inhibit your body’s ability to make oxytocin include stress, opioid drug use, and even the emotions of fear and anger.22,23-30 Oxytocin, in the past, was believed to only be important during delivery of a baby where the mother produces oxytocin to induce uterine contractions. In 1963, at an early medical conference on oxytocin in South America, it was reported that oxytocin affects your blood flow on a daily basis.31 High blood pressure and migraine headaches have both been linked to low levels of the oxytocin hormone.
The Oxytocin Hormone Is Essential To Bonding
Oxytocin signals stem cells to become heart cells.32-35 Interestingly, the heart is a symbol of love and oxytocin, being the love hormone, turns your stem cells into heart cells. It also stimulates stem cells in your bone marrow to create new bone.36 Oxytocin may also help decrease your risk of breast cancer by inhibiting certain breast cancer cell lines. 29
Oxytocin, Healthy Aging, and Stem Cells
Oxytocin helps control testosterone production and makes testosterone more potent by converting it to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is about 4 times as potent as testosterone.37,38,39 The DHT then converts to another hormone that is a “male” hormone that behaves like a “female” hormone because it activates estrogen receptor, 3β-diol. These receptors are a special type of estrogen receptor known as estrogen receptor beta. Estrogen receptor beta is being studied because of when activated it has anti-cancer properties in the breast and prostate. Both hormones, estrogen (estradiol) and DHT’s child 3β-diol, increase the production of oxytocin in the brain.40,41 Thus, forms of both estrogen and testosterone effect oxytocin levels in the brain and this is one reason why a comprehensive approach to hormone replacement therapy is important.
“The endocrine component of the stress response is regulated by glucocorticoids and sex steroids. Testosterone down-regulates hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity; however, the mechanisms by which it does so are poorly understood. A candidate testosterone target is the oxytocin gene (Oxt), given that it too inhibits HPA activity. Within the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, oxytocinergic neurons involved in regulating the stress response do not express androgen receptors but do express estrogen receptor-β (ERβ), which binds the dihydrotestosterone metabolite 3β,17β-diol (3β-diol).”
Oxytocin Hormone & Testosterone
Oxytocin has been shown to support thyroid function by improving the import of iodine into thyroid cells.42 Iodine is essential to the production of thyroid hormones. In fact, the amount of iodine in thyroid hormone determines its function. Both oxytocin and prolactin stimulate the import of iodine via the sodium iodide symporter system.
Oxytocin and Hypothyroidism
Oxytocin therapy (ie sublingual oxyotcin) decreases stress hormone (cortisol) levels.43 Research has shown that genetics plays a role in how your body deals with stress. Depending on your genetics, oxytocin can have a strong influence on how the people around you can help you deal with stress. A 2011 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that “genetic variation of the oxytocin system modulates the effectiveness of positive social interaction as a protective buffer against a stressful experience.”44
Another 2011 study in the Journal of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) found that culture also plays a factor in how we deal we stress based on our genetics and oxytocin levels. They compared different oxytocin genotypes in Korea and the UNited States and found that women with the same genotype will behave differently depending on the culture. Women in the United States are more likely to seek social support in times of stress if they have a certain oxytocin genotype. In Korea, their oxytocin genotype did not predict this.
“These findings suggest that OXTR rs53576 is sensitive to input from the social environment, specifically cultural norms regarding emotional social support seeking. These findings also indicate that psychological distress and culture are important moderators that shape behavioral outcomes associated with OXTR genotypes.”45
In addition, our oxytocin genetics determine how charitable giving effects stress in your life. A recent 2013 study in the Journal of Hormones and Behavior showed that in certain people their oxytocin genetics allowed them to use charitable giving as a way to cope with stress. Perhaps this explains how some doctors deal with the stress of helping others on a daily basis and why some doctors genetics may make them less easily stressed by having the lives of others in their hands.
“Results indicated that charitable behavior buffered the associations between stressful events and new-onset ailments among individuals with the AA/AG genotypes of oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) variant rs53576, but not among those with the GG genotype. These results suggest that oxytocin function may significantly affect health and may help explain the associations between prosocial behavior and health. More broadly, these findings are consistent with a role for the caregiving behavioral system in health and well-being.”46
Oxytocin as an Adrenal Hormone
Oxytocin (Oxt) may be an important factor in weight loss. Research has shown that oxytocin effects blood sugar levels in the blood.48-52 In a 2011 study using mice (sorry little guys), treatment with oxytocin injections caused the mice to eat less and lose excess body fat. These mice were apparently already obese from overeating before treatment and they became less so only after 13 days treatment despite having the same food options. Their blood pressure remained the same during the treatment. The researchers concluded that “peripheral Oxt treatment provides a new therapeutic avenue for treating obesity and hyperphagia [over-eating].”53
Oxytocin Hormone Deficiency & Weight Loss
Oxytocin is being used in the treatment of a number of health conditions as well as to support healthy aging. Oxytocin is a prescription medication that can be taken as a nasal spray, as a sublingual tab or troche, topically, and as an injection. In our practice we have found the sublingual form the most convenient. Oxytocin can be placed under the tongue in a special preparation and will dissolve directly into the blood stream.
Supplemental oxytocin can be very helpful if you have an oxytocin deficiency. Looking for the cause of an oxytocin deficiency is also important. Genetic factors, hormonal imbalances, and nutritional deficiencies are all potential causes of decreased oxytocin levels. Thierry Hertoghe, MD has written several books about hormone therapies and wrote the book, “Passion Sex and Long Life – the Incredible Oxytocin Adventure”.
In 2011, researchers published a paper in Menopause that found topical oxytocin therapy could treat vaginal atrophy. Vaginal atrophy is one of the major causes of pain during sex in postmenopausal women. The oxytocin was applied in high doses inside the vagina and most women had improvement in their symptoms. “Topical treatment with oxytocin appears to improve vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women.”77
Oxytocin is being studied in China as a treatment for headache. In a 2013 study published in Neuropeptides, researchers found oxytocin (OXT) sprayed up the nose could alleviate headaches. They reported, “the data suggested that intranasal OXT, which was delivered to the central nervous system through olfactory region, could treat human headache and OXT might be a potential drug of headache relief by intranasal administration.”78
The safety of oxytocin is largely based on the fact that your body makes this hormone naturally and in small doses oxytocin therapy rarely has side effects. The one side effect we have seen is if used excessively can cause fatigue due to decreased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.