Women, men friends, family, patients or someone in the elevator have opinions about how relationships are working or not working in their life and want to talk about it. During this time of year there are many conversations about love and romantic relationships as Valentine’s Day draws closer. Often I find myself in the middle of a conversation about love and relationships as it seems to be a topic of interests for so many people who I come in contact with. One friend and I often talk about relationships – our own and friends – trying to figure out what makes them work and what doesn’t. We know that there is always a certain amount of chemistry that is required to help you the stormy times. We can never really figure out what that certain special intangible thing that reminds us that this one individual is a keeper. Since we are both doctors we fall back on science and say that it is the biology of love is at work. It gives us both a good chuckle
whenever we hear about an event in a relationship that invokes strong positive emotion from one of the people in the relationship. She always says “oh that oxytocin is really strong”. This always causes me to just nod my head in agreement with a big grin. There really is scientific research that shows there are hormones that cause social bonding and sexual arousal and in this blog I will be talking about one of them: oxytocin.
Oxytocin is a hormone that is released from the brain (it is created in the posterior pituitary and travels down to the hypothalamus where it was released) in response to instincts about love and forming social bonds. Oxytocin is also released from the ovaries of women and the testes of men which makes sense since it is also released during sexual orgasms. This makes it part of the bonding process for relationships between men and women. Women produce much more oxytocin than men and part of that reason is because oxytocin is also released during labor and delivery, it stimulates milk let down in nursing mothers and it is related to the formation of maternal behavior. In men oxytocin is responsible for sexual arousal and erection.