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Did You Know?

Sex and Intimacy

Touch and orgasm releases oxytocin, a hormone that helps people bond emotionally with their partners.

Sometimes called “the love hormone,” oxytocin is associated with intimacy, trust, and social connections.

Oxytocin plays a huge role in mother-infant bonding. In fact, oxytocin is involved with uterine contractions during childbirth and the release of milk for breastfeeding. It also helps mothers bond with their newborns.

Our brains produce oxytocin throughout our lives. Production can be triggered by a hug or touch. During orgasm, our brains produce about twice the usual amount, which is why you may feel extra close to your partner after having sex.

Researchers are studying ways that oxytocin might be used to improve our social interactions. For example, a 2009 Swiss study found that couples given oxytocin felt less stress when discussing a conflict.

Others researchers think oxytocin might help people with autism.

However, oxytocin does not affect everyone positively. Researchers at the Mount Sinai Medical Center asked 31 men about their childhood relationships with their mothers. Before the survey, some men were given oxytocin; others received a placebo.

One group had had good childhood relationships with their mothers. Of these participants, men who took oxytocin were more likely to report greater attachment to their mothers than the placebo group.

In the group that had had more problematic relationships with their mothers, the men who took oxytocin were more likely to report less attachment than the placebo group.