Oxytocin is sometimes referred to as the “love hormone” thanks to the part it plays in human bonding. Oxytocin also has a major role in childbirth and breastfeeding and several recent scientific studies have also linked the hormone to sexual arousal. Some studies have also found that increased levels of oxytocin can help adults and children with anxiety and social disorders, as well as autism, so if this applies to you or somebody you know, find out how to increase oxytocin.
As we have already mentioned, childbirth and breastfeeding stimulates oxytocin production in the body. The hormone is released in large quantities during the first stage of labour as the cervix and uterus begin to dilate. Once the baby has been born, oxytocin is again released when the nipples are stimulated and this encourages the “let down” reflex for milk production; it is also the reason breastfeeding mothers experience mild contractions during the first few weeks after birth.
But unless you are a woman who wishes to spend her reproductive years pregnant or breastfeeding, what other ways are there for how to increase oxytocin levels in the body?
Simple touching is a great way to increase levels of oxytocin in the body. There is a very good reason why oxytocin is nicknamed the love hormone—it is released in large quantities during the early stages of romantic relationships and plays a huge role in encouraging the bonding process with new partners.
Oxytocin is a calming hormone: it relieves anxiety and stress, lowers blood pressure and makes us feel good. Hugs, caresses, and any close contact is enough to encourage the body to release oxytocin into the blood, which in turn lowers the levels of stress hormones.
Sex is one way to increase levels of oxytocin in the body. Scientific studies have shown that levels of oxytocin increase markedly during arousal and orgasm. Researchers believe that this could be in response to genital and/or nipple stimulation and there has been some suggestion that increased oxytocin production immediately after female orgasm helps facilitate egg and sperm transport. So engaging in great sex is probably the best way to boost your levels of oxytocin. Lots of pleasurable touching during foreplay increases your oxytocin levels, relieves stress, promotes trust and bonding with your partner and generally makes you feel on top of the world.
And if sex is out of the question, there are plenty of other ways you can boost your oxytocin levels. Daydreaming about your loved one is known to increase oxytocin. Hug your friends and family, or have a cuddle with your child on the sofa. Even the simplest of touches can increase oxytocin levels and reduce stress.
Keeping a pet is also a great way to increase natural levels of oxytocin. Stroking cats and petting dogs is a great feel-good activity and this is one of the reasons why many nursing homes invite dog owners in on a regular basis so the elderly residents can stroke the animals: a few minutes stroking a receptive animal massively reduces stress levels and promotes general wellbeing.