Oxytocin Makes the Love Flow Better

Oxytocin's responsible for a lot of things.  It's there in childbirth, child-making, breast-feeding.  Many important roles for this hormone.

But now studies are finding that it may also be responsible for monogamy -- or keeping marriages together, as well as orgasm, social recognition, pair bonding and maternal behaviors. 

It's the bonding part of oxytocin that has marriage counselors -- and marriage partners -- excited.  Turns out, according to a story at medicalnewstoday.com, this "love hormone" also "stimulates the reward center in the male brain, increasing partner attractiveness and strengthening monogamy."

How's that again?

Scientists say that monogamy is not a natural state for mammals.  So they set out to discover why.

A simple experiment was conducted with heterosexual men in a long-term relationship who were shown photos of their partners, then photos of other women. When a spray of oxytocin was unleashed into participants' nostrils, "their reward system in the brain when viewing the partner was very active, and they perceived them as more attractive than the other women," the Web site quotes study lead author Dirk Scheele.  

The study shows how "oxytocin's effects are 'very similar to a drug' for couples in a permanent relationship," Dr. René Hurlemann, executive senior physician from the Bonn University Medical Center, tells medicalnewstoday.com.

"This could explain why people fall into depression or deep mourning after a separation from their partner: due to the lack of oxytocin secretion, the reward system is understimulated, and is more or less in a withdrawal state."the doctor adds.

But there's also as always, a drawback.  Notes the Web site, "Oxytocin could potentially be counterproductive, as a boost of oxytocin could make the longing for the partner even stronger, potentially increasing suffering."

Now for the kick in the head.  Women had exactly the opposite reaction to oxytocin. 


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