I learned about oxytocin from the Tyra Banks Show a couple years ago and was fascinated by what I learned. Oxytocin is the hormone that causes the desire to cuddle after sex. It is produced in women during labor, and nursing; naturally women contain more oxytocin than men, just like men contain more testosterone than women.
Science has now developed a nasal spray of oxytocin. Yes ladies, you can now squirt the insensitive man in your life and turn him into someone like you.
Gentlemen, if you are alarmed or thankful about this news over this nasal spray that could turn you into well, an emotional jello relative to your “normal” selves, the scientists to thank or to blame are in the University of Bonn led by Dr. René Hurlemann. They published their study in the April 7, 2010 issue of the journal Neuroscience. Their study was entitled “Oxytocin Enhances Amygdala-Dependent, Socially Reinforced Learning and Emotional Empathy in Humans” and whether it reads like it to you or not gentlemen, this study concerns you and your touchy-feely possibilities.
For quite some time now, scientists have known that oxytocin is a chemical that both men and women naturally produce that enables us to bond with each other. It has been dubbed the “love molecule,” the “trust hormone” and now, with this experiment, it gained another nickname — the “cuddle spray.”
In rats and sheep, experiments have shown that when oxytocin is blocked, female mothers reject their offspring. When injected in virgin rats, they care for pups that are not their own. It seems to be the molecular key to mothering. It makes you wonder if all the fatherless families are due to a lack of oxytocin in the male in question.
Oxytocin is present in both males and females in larger streams during the peak of lovemaking like some kind of emotional crazy-glue; although the difference in the amount between the woman and the man often leads to the woman feeling that she is in love and the man simply feeling satisfied but ready to go to sleep. I personally suspect (based on some things I've read by Markus Rothkranz and other sources) that if you're completely healthy and free of toxins that you will naturally produce much more oxytocin, regardless of your sex.
A study from 1999;
Different questionnaires, including the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems and the Adult Attachment Scale, were used to assess each woman's previous experiences with personal and close relationships. The results were significantly correlated with the recorded changes in bloodstream oxytocin levels.
Women whose oxytocin levels rose in response to massage and remembering a positive relationship reported having little difficulty setting appropriate boundaries, being alone, and trying too hard to please others. Women whose oxytocin levels fell in response to remembering a negative emotional relationship reported greater problems with experiencing anxiety in close relationships.
"It seems that having this hormone "available" during positive experiences, and not being depleted of it during negative experiences, is associated with well-being in relationships," said Turner.
In addition, women who were currently involved in a committed relationship experienced greater oxytocin increases in response to positive emotions than single women. The researchers speculate that a close, regular relationship may influence the responsiveness of the hormone, said Turner.
These preliminary findings bring up some intriguing questions, said Teresa McGuinness, MD, PhD, UCSF clinical psychiatry faculty member and co-author of the paper. Because oxytocin is released in men and women during sexual orgasm, it may be involved in adult bonding, said Turner. There is also speculation that in addition to facilitating lactation and the birthing process, the hormone facilitates the emotional bond between mother and child.
"Evolutionarily speaking, it makes sense that during pregnancy and the postpartum, both a woman's body and her mind would be stimulated to nurture her child," said Turner.
Oxytocin may also play a role in the higher levels of depression and interpersonal stress seen in women, said Turner. According to most psychiatrists, women experience depression twice as often as men and tend to be more affected by relationship difficulties. Turner and her colleagues hope that their work on oxytocin will guide future research on the psychiatric conditions of men and women.
A couple of studies in 2010;
A study was done with 48 healthy (by American standards; which are not very high) men who participated in a experiment that would reveal the effect of the Oxytocin-squirt on their expressed empathy. It was a double blind study which meant that neither the subjects nor the experimenters knew which half were given the Oxytocin or the placebo. The subjects were shown images in the form of a crying child, a girl hugging her cat, and a grieving man. Then the subjects were asked to express how much they felt for the persons in the situations shown.
The results were clear: the oxytocin effect was significant in that the men who got the oxytocin-squirt expressed more empathy than the ones who did not get squirted.
In a second experiment, men were tested in their learning where the feedback to the subjects’ answers was in the form of a facial expression. The men who got the oxytocin-squirt performed better making the scientists suspect that oxytocin really makes men more sensitive to emotional clues which are written in faces and in body language.
What's my expression say? *lol*
While the idea of men suddenly becoming entranced with chick-flicks (thereby making the term 'chick flick' moot) and crying at the thought of their kitten being run over is quite horrifying, the idea of them being able to read our body language is incredibly stimulating. Imagine if your man stopped requiring for you to spell everything out?
But ladies, before you troop to drugstores to get a lifetime-supply, you have to know that this is still in the experimental stage. Unfortunately. Feel free to have an emotional breakdown from disappointment.
Edit from November 2010: Oxytocin spray is now on the market at the whopping price of $60 an ounce (600 sprays) here. But remember that hugging, holding hands, touching in general, sex, etc. are the best ways to get your oxytocin.