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What is Oxytocin Spray?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
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  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2014
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Oxytocin spray is an aerosolized version of the hormone oxytocin. The spray is generally designed for nasal administration, as blowing the hormone into the nose ensures that it will be rapidly absorbed by the body through the mucus membranes of the nose. Some companies also sell oxytocin body sprays, with many of these products being of questionable quality and function.

The hormone oxytocin is secreted by the pituitary gland. It has a number of functions, many of which are associated with labor and delivery and nursing mothers. During labor, oxytocin facilitates rapid and efficient delivery, and after birth, the hormone promotes milk production in nursing mothers. This hormone also appears to be linked with trust, bonding, and love, with people secreting higher levels of the hormone when they are involved in activities with people they are close to.

Doctors have been administering oxytocin to laboring mothers to speed the process in the form of sprays and injections for decades. The hormone cannot be taken orally because it is destroyed in the digestive tract. Oxytocin spray has also been prescribed to women who have trouble with milk production. When the hormone is used for these purposes, it is available by prescription only, because doctors want to make sure that its uses are tightly controlled for safety reasons.

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Researchers became interested in the functions of oxytocin when they noted that the hormone appeared to contribute to the formation of bonds and trusting relationships. Using oxytocin spray in studies, scientists found that people treated with the hormone would be more likely to trust others. They suggested that the drug could be used to help people manage social anxiety disorders and social phobias, and that it could potentially also be utilized as a relationship aid to deepen the bonds between couples.

Several companies have marketed products which purportedly contain oxytocin as “love sprays.” This type of oxytocin spray is available without a prescription, and it may or may not contain the hormone, with varying dosage levels in the case of products which actually contain oxytocin. “Love” and “trust” sprays have been criticized by researchers who are concerned about the potential for abuse of the hormone.

Prescription oxytocin spray comes with precise dosage recommendations, and a delivery method which is designed to get the hormone into the body. Body sprays are generally not effective, because only small amounts of the hormone can be absorbed through the skin, and oxytocin is not a pheromone, which means that people in the vicinity of someone using an oxytocin spray will not be affected.

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anon315122
Post 12

Can you tell me the name of Oxytocin spray for men.

anon305062
Post 11

A couple of quick answers. The reason that Oxytocin causes uterine contractions during labor and not at other times has to do with the presence of Oxytocin receptors on the uterus. These receptors increase in number from the mid second trimester all the way to past delivery. If you give oxytocin in the first trimester, it won't have much affect on the uterus. That's why, when a suction D&C is done in the first trimester, you have to give Methergine instead of Oxytocin.

To answer your second question regarding IV Oxytocin (pitocin) during labor instead of nasal spray, it has a very short half life and you have to be able to micro manage the dose and its effect on the baby. If the contractions are too strong, and the baby is in distress, you can very quickly lower the infusion rate or switch it off, and the contractions will subside.

SZapper
Post 10

It's interesting that this hormone does so many different things! However, it makes sense in the context of childbirth. It helps trigger labor, stimulates milk production, and increases mother to child bonding. All of these things sound pretty essential for successfully producing offspring.

I have to wonder why oxcytocin doesn't continue to trigger uterine contractions after birth, and instead of stimulates milk production? I'm wondering if it's because there are different levels of the hormone in the body, or maybe it's because of other hormones that are present that react with the oxytocin?

JessicaLynn
Post 9

@indemnifyme - That does sound a bit paranoid to me. From the article, it doesn't sound like oxytocin nasal spray turns you into a mindless zombie that will do whatever someone tells you. It just sounds like it makes you a bit more trusting, which might be good for someone with social anxiety.

I don't support the use of this stuff in "love" sprays though. First of all, it sounds like it would barely be affective anyway. And second of all, if you need to trigger some kind of hormonal reaction in your body just to trust your partner, you probably shouldn't be with them anyway!

indemnifyme
Post 8

@Oceana - I have social anxiety, and I agree with you. But then again it might be my anxiety talking! But seriously, feeling more trusting of people doesn't sound like a good thing to me at all. As you said, it definitely leaves one vulnerable for abuse.

And maybe I'm a little paranoid, but it seems like something like this could be used for marketing. Just imagine if you were a salesperson, and you could sneak you prospective clients a hormone that would make them trust you more? I'm sure you would see a rise in sales. I feel like it's only a matter of time before someone managers to make an oxytocin air freshener or something!

orangey03
Post 7

This nose spray sounds like it has the same effects that certain pain pills have on me. I was in a car accident and injured my knee, and the doctor gave me some hydrocodone. About 45 minutes after taking it, I suddenly felt love for everyone.

It also made me want to talk to people. I found myself calling up old friends for a chat and being really emotional, but in a good way. I felt like everything was alright with the world, and I felt totally safe inside.

Does oxytocin spray affect people to this extreme, or is it more subtle? If it made a person feel as wonderful as I did on the painkillers, then it sounds like it would be addictive.

Oceana
Post 6

@burcidi – I have to wonder if oxytocin spray reducing anxiety and fear is really a good thing. True, you don't want to live with a lot of fear, but a certain amount of it is helpful.

Just how trusting will this spray make a person? Will someone under its influence be more vulnerable to con artists and pick pockets than they would have been before using it? Will he or she spill all their secrets to someone who will use them against him or her?

The only kind of spray I will ever put in my nose is nasal congestion spray. Anything beyond that seems like it doesn't belong there. I really don't want to alter my perception, and I would rather trust no one that feel all touchy-feely and get taken advantage of by someone.

ElizaBennett
Post 5

@SailorJerry - I did a little research and I did not turn up an easy answer, but I can guess for a couple of reasons.

One possibility is that the dosage is different. You would most likely use a higher dose of oxytocin to induce strong uterine contractions than to treat social anxiety!

Another possibility is that the nasal spray is just not controlled enough. Pitocin can sometimes cause contractions that are so strong they are dangerous for mom and/or baby, and in that case all you have to do is unplug the IV. A nasal spray seems like it would be iffier.

SailorJerry
Post 4

I know that oxytocin is routinely given to women in labor to speed things up, but my understanding is that in labor they use an IV.

Why wouldn't they use the nasal spray for that purpose as well? Why the IV Pitocin drip instead?

bear78
Post 3

@simrin, @burcidi-- I agree with both of you. Oxytocin definitely has benefits, but there is no guarantee that every oxytocin spray on the market is safe or high quality. And I do think that a consumer needs to question the quality of the product before purchasing just like @simrin is.

These sprays are easily available online and they're quite expensive. Most of it is sold under the name "love hormone." Many brands claim that it will make the user more attractive to the opposite sex or that it will improve sexual performance.

There doesn't appear to be strict control over these products and what they may or may not contain as the article suggested. These are definitely factors to consider before purchasing and using an oxytocin saline or body spray.

burcidi
Post 2

@simrin-- Actually, there have been a lot of studies done on this and oxytocin has been proven to reduce social anxiety and phobia.

The way it works is by suppressing a part of the brain called "amygdala." This is the part of the brain that allows us to feel emotions like fear and anxiety. But oxytocin reduces these emotions, and gives feelings of well-being, safety and relaxation. That's how it benefits those with social anxiety.

And it's not just used by those with anxiety disorders, but even more serious disorders like schizophrenia.

SteamLouis
Post 1

I've heard about oxytocin nasal sprays on various social anxiety forums. Some people have reported using it with positive results but I find it questionable.

First of all, I don't think it's a wise idea to use a hormonal supplement unless it's prescribed by a doctor to treat a deficiency or some other problem. Oxytocin is not a hormone that we hear often about and very few of us ever get tested for our oxytocin levels.

But from what I know, all hormones are related to one another. The pituitary gland itself is responsible for producing or triggering the production of multiple hormones. So taking oxytocin hormone will definitely have an impact on the other hormones in our body.

And how can this hormonal spray possibly reduce social anxiety in someone? It could be a placebo effect for all we know.

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