One of the, almost, universal truths is that as you get older your body begins to turn down some of the primal drives that you have – in particular the relationships between older couples can seem devoid of the physical aspects of being in love. Forget the ‘flowers and hearts’ stuff, but there is a fundamental truth and a link between the lengths of time you have been together and the numbers of small, seeming significant, quarrels over almost nothing.
There are numerous scholarly articles related to experiments and testing on prairie voles, sheep and rats that demonstrate the levels of potency increase with the production (or in these cases the introduction) of a naturally occurring hormone called oxytocin. First ‘discovered’ in 1909 by Henry Dale (later to be ‘Sir’ and a Nobel Prize winner), oxytocin is named after a Greek phrase which, when translated, means ‘speedy birth’. What he found was that this hormone, produced in the pituitary gland does many things – amongst which are controlling the contraction of the uterus during birth and the production of human milk during the nursing period! It seems that oxytocin is a wonder drug – so why haven’t we heard so much about it? And if it was thought, primarily, to be about childbirth, what on Earth has it got to do with us seniors?
Well, ‘seniors’ have feelings too and that is what oxytocin controls. There is a wonderful warmth and feeling of ‘togetherness’ in simply having a cuddle or holding hands and that warmth is, in a way, a byproduct of the little gland, the size of a pea, that we know as the pituitary.
I talked earlier about the ‘quarrels’ between people who have been together for a long-time and much of that is down to stress and distance in a relationship – it isn’t that people move apart, more that they don’t find it easy to show emotion or come closer together. So if there was a way…and there is. By simply having a cuddle, you feel closer to the person you are cuddling physically and emotionally. And science has found a mechanism for helping people overcome that irrational fear of disagreements and feeling alone – it’s a treatment that goes under the ungainly title of ‘oxytocin factor sublingual drops or the nasal spray’ – enough to put you off, but don’t let it. … Continue Reading