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Oxytocin: The Key to Fidelity

The famous poet, Oscar Wilde, once said: “Those who are faithless know the pleasures of love; it is the faithful who know love’s tragedies.” Perhaps Oscar was referring to the emotional torment felt by those on the receiving end of infidelity. Or perhaps he was referring to the temptation all too often experienced by men – and women – to cheat on a partner. Either way, infidelity is without a doubt the most difficult problem any couple can face, for both the faithful and the faithless partner. Surely if there was a drug that could cure people from the temptations of infidelity, it would be flying off the pharmacy shelves? Well, it appears there might be.

“Social distance” is what can prevent people from cheating. It is the unwritten physical distance that people keep between them when they communicate. Communication within this distance is the point at which people start to feel uncomfortable. One set of circumstances that really tests the boundaries of social distance is when two people flirt. When these people give in to temptation, that social distance is broken down.

It was initially thought that oxytocin, a substance that encourages social relationships, would be able to break down that distance. Researchers at the University of Bonn recently decided to put this theory to the test. Oxytocin has long been nick-named the “love hormone”, so researchers at the institute thought that the substance would diminish any desire to maintain social distance.

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Oxytocin and Postpartum Depression

Also known as ‘post natal depression,’ postpartum describes some of the emotions that surround the period immediately after childbirth when the bond between mother and baby is often cemented by the production of milk during breast-feeding.  But for many mothers this cementation is made more difficult when their natural hormones don’t kick in and they find it hard to lactate – and this pressure builds up till it spills over into the whole family relationship.

Way back at almost the beginning of the last century, 1906 to be exact, a British scientist discovered a naturally occurring hormone, secreted during childbirth called oxytocin (translated from the Greek meaning ‘speedy birth’) and found that it had a couple of primary functions; first it contracted the uterus to help the birthing process and then it stimulated the mammary glands to begin lactation. While it was Sir Henry Dale[1]  who first discovered the hormone and its connections, much work has been done in the area of postpartum across the years and most recently James F. Paulson, PhD et al, talked about the issue in the ‘Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics’[2]  in an abstract from an article that looked at the links between postpartum on mothers, fathers and parenting. In the full article they discuss the role of oxytocin in lactation and the impact that the reduction or even cessation of milk production can have on stress levels for the whole family.

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Prader-Willi Syndrome and the Oxytocin Solution

OxytocinCentral (September 1, 2011). New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, demonstrates that the hormone oxytocin is able to positively affect patients by improving trust, mood, and reducing disruptive behavior.

Prader-Willi syndrome and Autism are two such areas of common disorders where oxytocin is proving effective. Prader-Willi syndrome is a rare genetic disorder which causes a range of complex neurological and developmental problems including cognitive and behavioral difficulties, weight gain, aggression, temper tantrums and social and emotional challenges. … Continue Reading

Health News: Oxytocin, Stress and Cancer

August 23, 2011 Oxytocin In The News, Research Articles Comments Off

Trust. Bond. Love. Cuddle. Calm. Connected.

These are the terms we associate with oxytocin, the hormone produced within our bodies during sex or lactation. It’s true that oxytocin does some spectacular neuro-work on our feelings and emotions, but oxytocin is also a super-hero in the way it helps our bodies combat stress.  Researchers in Italy and Australia are now studying oxytocin’s potential in the fight against cancer. … Continue Reading

Oxytocin Takes the Sting Away, Studies Say

If you want to measure a person’s generosity level, see what they do when asked to give away some of their money. Researchers who decided this was a good way to measure oxytocin’s effect on generosity found that the hormone – known to promote trust – made study participants more likely to share, possibly by reinforcing their trust that their own portions would suffice.

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Oxytocin Peaks at Orgasm and Also Peaks Perception of Pleasure in Sex, Studies Say

Good sex includes (at least) three parts: the buildup, the peak and the afterglow, and oxytocin is one of the few neuropeptides that is part of all, bringing home pleasure before, during and after.

In fact, oxytocin plays a highly prominent part in sex, a role that has been researched since at least the 1980s when a benchmark study showed blood plasma levels rose in both genders during arousal and were markedly higher during climax than prior baseline levels.

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Oxytocin’s Effect on Sleepiness Likely Tied to Mixing with other Chemicals, Researchers Say

By Maureen Salamon

It’s well-known that sex can make people sleepy. So can melatonin, a hormone available in pill form that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. But where does oxytocin fit into this? Scientists are still figuring that out, though oxytocin seems to combine with other chemicals and situations to bring on the zzzz’s more quickly.

Need help falling asleep? Watch our YouTube video, “Can’t Sleep? Oxytocin Aids Sleep

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