I have heard that oxytocin

  • improves mood drastically,
  • is secreted in the body during certain activities,
  • can be synthesized artificially,
  • and the artificially synthesized oxytocin can be consumed

    1. Does consumption of artificially synthesized oxytocin cause any side effects?
    2. Does the artificially synthesized oxytocin cause the same effects on the body as the hormone which is naturally secreted?

2 Answers 2


Oxytocin is typically produced by the body and brain during childbirth. It assists with the mother's pain relief, initial bonding with her child, and forces the body to perform contractions.

It has difficulty crossing the blood/brain barrier when administered intravenously, therefore the pain relief and other mental effects are significantly less pronounced. (When produced naturally during childbirth it is secreted by the hypothalamus, placenta, and ovaries.)

Synthetic oxytocin (it usually has the trade names Pitocin or Syntocinon) is typically administered to induce regular contractions. Its standard use during labour is rather controversial outside of the USA, due to a direct statistical correlation with unnecessary C-Sections and other complications for both mother and child.

  • Other than the labour time is synthetic oxygen in sold to other people ? Without doctors prescription ? Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 4:41
  • 1
    I know that in Australia it is not even stocked by chemists which are not associated with a hospital ( although it can be ordered ) and a prescription is required . Although I don't believe that there is any use for it which would not require extremely close medical supervision. Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 4:53
  • So if any individual takes without any medical or doctor supervision.. won't it cause any side effects on him? Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 4:54
  • 1
    Depending on a lot of factors, I could say quite comfortably that a individual could go from anywhere to no side effects to death... Please do not take ( or give anyone ) regulated medications. Even if you somehow got your hands on some please dispose of it responsibly and do not attempt to take it. A few words on the Internet are no substitute for a medical degree Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 5:03
  • This looks like a good answer, but could you add some sources for your claims (blood/brain barrier, effects being significantly less pronounced) ?
    – YviDe
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 17:03

Oxytocin is mainly produced by the body in the following situations:

  • contractions
  • sex
  • breastfeeding
  • social interaction

It is primarily produced in the hypothalamus of the brain. In pregnant women, it is also produced in the placenta. Synthetic oxytocin is bioidentical, but for obvious reasons not administered in the brain.


Synthesized oxytocin is mainly used to induce contractions in women. However, promising studies have been done on patients with schizophrenia:

The results revealed that intranasal oxytocin (40 international units twice a day), administered as an adjunct to subjects’ antipsychotic drugs for 3 weeks improved positive and negative symptoms significantly more than placebo

In other studies, the same treatment showed no effect:

Two small studies failed to detect any functional improvement from the use of intranasal oxytocin (multiple brands) in patients with schizophrenia, even when coupled with social skills training, research presented here indicates.

Other studies have been done in patients with autism:

Compared with placebo, oxytocin led to significant improvements on the primary outcome of caregiver-rated social responsiveness.

As of yet, oxytocin is only used for these conditions in studies. All of the studies so far have been done with small sample sizes.

Side effects

So far, side effects of the nasal spray used in the schizophrenia and autism studies appear to be mild:

Overall, nasal spray was well tolerated, and the most common reported adverse events were thirst, urination and constipation

From another source:

The evidence shows that intranasal oxytocin: (1) produces no detectable subjective changes in recipients, (2) produces no reliable side-effects, and (3) is not associated with adverse outcomes when delivered in doses of 18–40 IU for short term use in controlled research settings. Future research directions should include a focus on the dosage and duration of use, and application with younger age groups, vulnerable populations, and with females.

As for the side effects of intravenously administered synthetic oxytocin during labor, there is a lot of information about it on the internet, and very few of it is sourced. Studies are hard to interpret because by design, the groups "no labor induction" and "labor induced" differ in more than the administration of oxytocin.

The Cochrane review on the topic concludes:

For women making slow progress in spontaneous labour, treatment with oxytocin as compared with no treatment or delayed oxytocin treatment did not result in any discernable difference in the number of caesarean sections performed. In addition there were no detectable adverse effects for mother or baby. The use of oxytocin was associated with a reduction in the time to delivery of approximately two hours which might be important to some women.


Synthesized oxytocin probably has no major side effects - however, it is not yet used regularly for any other medical reason than inducing labor.


Beyond Labor: The role of natural and synthetic oxytocin in the transition to motherhood

Oxytocin as a Potential Therapeutic Target for Schizophrenia and Other Neuropsychiatric Conditions

Oxytocin Shows No Effect in Schizophrenia

The effect of oxytocin nasal spray on social interaction deficits observed in young children with autism: a randomized clinical crossover trial

A review of safety, side-effects and subjective reactions to intranasal oxytocin in human research

Oxytocin versus no treatment or delayed treatment for slow progress in the first stage of spontaneous labour

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