Oxytocin plays one of the most rewarding roles in our lives. Also called the love hormone, oxytocin is responsible for the positive feelings that suffuse your whole body naturally when you experience love.
During childbirth, sexual intimacy, positive social interactions, breastfeeding, playing with your baby or cuddling up with your romantic partner, the more oxytocin you release, the happier you are.
Let’s look at the most loved of all hormones.
Natural oxytocin production depends on our predisposition to be happy. Trust and will are necessary to increase oxytocin levels.
Oxytocin synthesis and release require specific circumstances. The more ‘animal-like’ we behave, the more oxytocin is released.
This means that the thinking part of the brain, the human part, needs to be as restful as possible to increase natural oxytocin production. The release of oxytocin is also more easily achieved in low light, when there is as little noise as possible and in an environment where the person feels safe.
Natural Oxytocin and reproduction
Getting oxytocin flowing can be as easy, or difficult, as getting in the mood during foreplay. Let’s be honest! Sexual arousal and sexual activity should always happen together.
When you have sex and you’re releasing oxytocin, your body is fully centered on the sexual activity. Remember that your body’s number one animal goal is reproduction. When you’re reproducing, the oxytocin high will take you on very pleasurable journeys, which means you keep doing it, again and again.
When you’re having sex and your thinking brain stays active, however, there is little or no release of oxytocin. These are the times when you aren’t letting your animal being do what it’s best at: increasing oxytocin. You’re thinking about something else. Perhaps it’s the number of things you have to do before the day is over, or how you will tell someone something. Maybe you’re thinking about the surprise you’ve prepared for your partner and you can’t talk about it!
No matter how colorful the examples I come up with, the mere fact that you are thinking is what stops the oxytocin release. You might be having sex with a loved one but you’re not mentally there.
As you can see, the difference between having too little or too much oxytocin is quite remarkable. The difference it makes in sexual pleasure is just one example but everything else happens in a very similar way. Secreting or not secreting oxytocin makes the difference between just surviving and thriving.
What organ controls oxytocin?
Anatomically speaking, oxytocin is made in the hypothalamus (a part of the brain); it is stored and released by the pituitary gland. This happens every time we experience love.
Spiritually speaking, love is placed in our hearts. You might think I’m a romantic and that’s not very relevant but let me reassure you how important it is you get this point. Apparently, it is the secret of happiness.
In his wonderful book Sacred Plant Medicine, Stephen Harrod Buhner states that when elder and aboriginal cultures are asked where their spirit lies, they point to their chests. Those of a more developed culture point to their brains.
Hearts and brains experiment with the world in very different ways. The ‘hearts’ have access to experiences that are impossible to perceive by the ‘brains’.
What’s the relevance of natural oxytocin levels?
Maintaining high oxytocin levels is important because they ground us. They help us live how we are meant to – with love.
Every time we get a dose of the love hormone, we’re performing an act of love: giving birth, breastfeeding, orgasming, laughing, caressing, cuddling (oxytocin is also called the ‘cuddle hormone’) or being with friends or loved ones.
These acts are highly beneficial for our physical and our mental health. The feeling is so good we want to stay at that level and we want to feel it again; that’s because the status we achieve when high levels of oxytocin flow through our veins regularly is the place where we thrive and the time when life is enjoyed and lived at its best. Everybody wants this but many don’t know how or where to get this mental clarity.
Keep reading. We will release oxytocin together: I’ll write about the love hormone and how to boost oxytocin levels and you’ll find out more about the secret of happiness.
How to increase natural oxytocin
What can you do to support healthy oxytocin levels? Do what makes you happy. Once we fall into oxytocin deficiency it’s easier to keep doing what harms us than to increase oxytocin levels. There are many things in your routine that can be changed, however, and it’s much easier than you think. Join a new class, do yoga, meditate, go to the cinema or start a board game evening. In no time, your nervous system will be flooded with happy hormones.
What stimulates oxytocin release?
Natural oxytocin receptors are always ready to receive the oxytocin released.
To be able to release oxytocin, you must feel safe and ready to experience love. This means reducing the stressors and the things that make you unhappy.
Ditch anything that produces stress and isn’t necessary. For example, I’ve stopped watching violent shows, no matter how good they are. They give me unnecessary stress that I don’t want.
Things that are stressful but must be done should be done as early as possible. When you postpone stressful tasks, the task keeps weighing you down, for the whole time you’re not doing it, until it’s over. You are blocking the production of oxytocin and also decreasing your current levels of oxytocin, as stress rapidly eats up the little oxytocin produced.
Once you’ve completed the tasks that were keeping you from happiness, your body will support oxytocin production straight away, because the barrier has been lifted.
What hormone blocks natural oxytocin?
We’ve just seen that stress is the antagonist of being present and thriving. Stress and fear keep us from feeling good and releasing natural oxytocin.
Stress hormones, such as adrenaline, nor-adrenaline and cortisol, are the hormones antagonist to natural oxytocin. This means that when one is present in high quantities the other one is very low. Antagonists cannot live happily together. It’s either one or the other. This means that to trigger natural oxytocin production there has to be no stress or fear.
What causes lack of natural oxytocin?
For a long time it was thought that the opposite of love was hatred. However, oxytocin research has shown that this is not totally accurate, because hatred requires intention. It is fear that causes a lack of natural oxytocin.
What stops us from being really happy are the ‘what ifs’ that we put in our heads. When we let fear run our lives, our natural oxytocin levels become low and our lives become miserable. If we are led by fear, the only source of ‘happiness’ is a place where natural oxytocin is lacking, which probably means we are judging, bullying, being nosy… as the only available ways to ‘thrive’ in such misery.
How to move from fear towards love
The first step is to look into yourself and start to promote emotional health.
What hurts you? What do you do about those things that hurt you? What can you do to minimize their impact?
Before natural oxytocin became my passion and changed my life, I used to live with so much stress that I even recreated uncomfortable conversations and situations over and over again.
I was stuck in stress mode and I was the one inflicting this acute stress on myself!
Start by observing your behavior when you’re in a stressful situation. What’s avoidable or changeable?
Once you find out what hurts you, think of what gives you pleasure. What do you love doing?
Of course, a coach or therapist would also help a lot but these are just a few ideas you can start to implementing right away.
Sending lots of love your way….
Natural oxytocin vs pitocin/syntocinon
Why isn’t synthetic oxytocin the number one item sold in the world?
The number one intervention in obstetrics is the use of synthetic oxytocin (pitocin/syntocinon) and there are many women who have it running through their veins during labor. Many, however, feel that the genuine oxytocin boost was removed from their experience.
That’s because pitocin doesn’t cross the brain barrier, which means that during labor the oxytocin levels in the brain are very low.
Pitocin works mechanically, simply to stimulate uterine contractions.
The body that receives pitocin doesn’t understand; it enters stress mode, stress hormone levels are high, fear takes over and the release of the natural hormone stops.
Pitocin removes love from the birthing process.
Ouch! I know. They don’t tell you this at the hospital before you sign the consent form. If it’s of any reassurance the vast majority of people, professionals or not, don’t know this.
I sometimes introduce myself as an expert in love.
You never thought you’d get an assignment in an article but here it is: share this knowledge with the world!
Imagine how you could help your loved ones thrive. Wouldn’t you be happy to give them that?
You can read more about oxytocin in these BellyBelly articles: