Oxytocin is a chemical that gets released during sex, and is often referred to as the “love hormone” or the “cuddle chemical”
Oxytocin is known to increase warmth, trust, openness, altruism, positive feelings and compassion. It’s the scientific reason that sexual activity and orgasms can deepen the bond between two people.
What is Oxytocin?
Oxytocin is a hormone that gets released during sex, childbirth and the period after childbirth. It is more prominent in females and refers to the reproductive organs such as the breasts and uterus. Known for its significant role is social bonding, the hormone enhances the connection between mother and child at birth.
The reason so many women “fall in love” after having sex is because the Hormone has a greater effect on females than on males. However, males can also experience the post-sex effects of Oxytocin. They too observe an increased sense of connection and trust. Levels of Oxytocin are known to increase during erection. Some scientists even speculate that Oxytocin could be the key to reducing infidelity.
In the beginning stages of a relationship. Oxytocin is responsible for the rose-colored glasses and feelings of infatuation that roll over us. The hormone is released in greater amounts in new relationships, which explains the honeymoon phase that all new couples go through. The higher levels of Oxytocin last for approximately six months before returning to normal.
The Dark Side of Oxytocin
Oxytocin is a complex molecule that we are still not able to entirely understand. There is a need for further research in order to fully understand what Oxytocin does. One thing we do know though is that aside from being the “love hormone”, Oxytocin is also the other name of “tend and defend” response.
Recent research has shown that the Hormone can promote negative social feelings as well. Envy and gloating have been found to be enhanced with heightened levels of the hormone. This suggests that the Hormone is linked to approach-related emotions, the emotions that are involved with desire.
In addition to the caring side of the Hormone, the hormone is also responsible for enhancing prejudice towards unfamiliar groups. This, unfortunately, is responsible for xenophobia and other discriminations, which has been known to involve violence.
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Because it is a social hormone, Oxytocin affects the way individuals respond to a group situation. When the Hormone is heightened, it is more likely that group members will lie on behalf of the group, without expecting the group to return the favor.
So it seems that Hormone has the ability to enhance a wide range of emotions, both positive and negative, which is why it is not yet sold in pill form. However, our limited understanding does explain the fact that the Hormone plays various roles in social interactions.
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