Oxytocin nasal spray contains the hormone oxytocin, also know as the love or cuddle hormone. After inhaled, oxytocin has been show to induce labor contractions, reduce the activity in the amygdala region of the brain, increase the production of breast milk and aid in the process of bonding between mothers and their infants. Oxytocin is also released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and some companies market oxytocin nasal spray as an aid in increasing arousal.
Oxytocin is produced by the pituitary gland and is released during nursing or nipple stimulation. Oxytocin works by traveling through the blood stream to the mammary gland and then promoting the production and release of milk. Women who have trouble lactating or adoptive mothers who wish to induce lactation may use oxytocin spray to aid in this process. Studies have also shown that mothers who breast feed and produce high levels of oxytocin have lower blood pressure and are calmer about stressful situations.
Labor contractions, which dilate the cervix, can be induced or strengthened through the use of oxytocin nasal spray. Oxytocin is always present in the body, but near the end of a woman’s pregnancy term, progesterone levels decrease, and the levels of oxytocin prompt the muscle contractions. If a woman’s contractions do not begin or are too weak to dilate the cervix completely, the boost of oxytocin from a nasal spray can aid in the birthing process. Oxytocin is normally only taken after a woman's water has broken.
The amygdala regions of the brain, located in the temporal lobes, play an important role in processing emotions and storing memories of these emotional occurrences. The amygdalae are essential to how the brain processes and responds to fear, anxiety and stress. Oxytocin reduces the activity in this part of the brain, increasing the person’s ability to trust and interact with others. Oxytocin nasal spray has been used in studies in which the participants’ debilitating social phobias are greatly reduced, and it has shown positive outcomes when inhaled by people with autism or schizophrenia.
Oxytocin is also the hormone that is released during physical contact and can increase a person’s ability to maintain eye contact and promote other human bonding responses. The hormone is also present in higher levels during sexual arousal and orgasm for both males and females. The hormone increases testosterone levels, and it promotes bonding between the sexual partners, and thus has been promoted as a product for increasing the intimacy between sexual partners.