What is oxytocin, what does it do, what are the symptoms of deficiency?

Oxytocin, often called the “Love hormone” or “Cuddle chemical,” is a neuropeptide produced in the brain. It plays a crucial role in social bonding, trust, and emotional connection. Recent research also links it to empathy and stress reduction. Oxytocin’s influence extends beyond romantic love, impacting parent-child bonding and even social interactions. Understanding its role in human relationships and behavior has potential implications for mental health and therapies.

APA 7: ChatGPT. (2023, September 7). What is oxytocin, what does it do, what are the symptoms of deficiency? PerEXP Teamworks. [Article Link]

What is oxytocin?

Oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter produced in the hypothalamus, a region of the brain. It is often referred to as the “Love hormone” or “Bonding hormone” because it plays a crucial role in social bonding, maternal behaviors, and emotional connections. Oxytocin is released into the bloodstream and can also act as a neurotransmitter in the brain.

Skeletal formula of oxytocin

What does oxytocin do?

Oxytocin serves several important functions in the body:

  1. Social bonding: Oxytocin is released during social interactions, especially those involving physical touch, like hugging or cuddling. It promotes trust and bonding between individuals.
  2. Childbirth: Oxytocin stimulates uterine contractions during labor and helps with the birthing process. It is often administered to induce or augment labor.
  3. Breastfeeding: Oxytocin is crucial for milk ejection (letdown) during breastfeeding. It helps move milk from the mammary glands to the nipple, facilitating nursing.
  4. Stress reduction: Oxytocin can help reduce stress and anxiety levels. It counteracts the effects of stress hormones and promotes a sense of calm and well-being.
  5. Emotional regulation: Oxytocin plays a role in emotional processing and empathy. It can enhance emotional recognition and facilitate social understanding.
  6. Sexual function: Oxytocin is involved in sexual arousal and orgasm in both men and women. It contributes to the pleasurable sensations associated with sexual activity.

Symptoms of oxytocin deficiency

While oxytocin deficiency is relatively rare, it can lead to certain symptoms and issues, including:

  1. Difficulty bonding: Individuals with low oxytocin levels may struggle with forming close emotional bonds and connecting with others.
  2. Breastfeeding challenges: Oxytocin deficiency can hinder the milk ejection reflex during breastfeeding, making it difficult for mothers to nurse their infants.
  3. Increased stress and anxiety: Low oxytocin levels may contribute to higher stress and anxiety levels, potentially leading to social difficulties and emotional imbalances.
  4. Difficulty in labor: Inadequate oxytocin production during childbirth can result in prolonged labor or difficulties with uterine contractions.
  5. Sexual dysfunction: Oxytocin deficiency may affect sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction, leading to sexual dysfunction in some cases.

It’s important to note that oxytocin deficiency is typically addressed in specific medical contexts, such as difficulties with childbirth or breastfeeding. For most individuals, natural oxytocin production functions adequately to support healthy social and emotional connections.


  1. JOURNAL Uvnäs-Moberg, K. (1998). OXYTOCIN MAY MEDIATE THE BENEFITS OF POSITIVE SOCIAL INTERACTION AND EMOTIONS1The purpose of this paper is to describe the neuroendocrine mechanisms of positive social interactions.1. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 23(8), 819–835. [Psychoneuroendocrinology]
  2. JOURNAL Kendrick, K. M. (2000). Oxytocin, motherhood and bonding. Experimental Physiology, 85(s1), 111s–124s. [Experimental Physiology]
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