Biology, Fundamentals

Sacred Insanity: The Love Drugs

loving female hormones

“That’s what falling in love really amounted to, your brain on drugs. Adrenaline and dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin. Chemical insanity, celebrated by poets.”

Tess Gerritsen

The Role of Loving Female Hormones in Sexuality

There are a number of substances produced by women’s bodies that might be called loving female hormones. Two of the most important are oxytocin and dopamine. Oxytocin was “discovered” in 1952, and dopamine in 1957. Both play a complex and important role in human relationships between men and women as well as between parents and children.

Oxytocin is both a medicine and a hormone which has been nicknamed “the love hormone”. Secreted from the pituitary gland to the many parts of the brain that contain receptors, one of the primary ways oxytocin acts as a loving female hormone is by reducing social anxiety and evoking feelings of calmness in the presence of a romantic partner. However, it is not only a loving female hormone, but a male one as well.

Another important aspect of human relationships is trust. In experiments designed to measure trust levels, researchers found that subject who were administered doses of oxytocin experienced higher levels of trust than those who were not. Even friendships require a degree of trust, but romantic relationships that may one day result in someone you find attractive seeing you in your underwear one day requires an even higher level.

One study that measured oxytocin serum levels of women before and after sexual stimulation found increased levels present immediately after orgasm. A similar study conducted with men found increased levels of oxytocin throughout the entire process of sexual arousal, rather than just after orgasm. This means that the presence of increased levels of oxytocin is an important component of human sexual arousal, both male and female.

During childbirth, oxytocin causes contractions, while dopamine reduces the pain that accompanies them. Dopamine also plays an important role in preventing or alleviating post-partum depression.

The Role of Loving Female Hormones in Parenting

One article shares the results of an experiment in which the natural production of oxytocin, one of the loving female hormones, was blocked in mother rats, which caused them to ignore their young. Additionally, young female mice who were not mothers themselves were indifferent to the cries of infant pups. However, when they were injected with oxytocin, they began to retrieve the crying infants. These studies revealed the presence of oxytocin receptors in the auditory cortex of the brain. The left side of the auditory cortex contains more receptors, which suggests that this is the part of the brain that specializes in recognizing social signals.

The largest and most important source of dopamine in the brain is the basal ganglia located at the base of the forebrain. This is the part of the brain responsible for controlling impulses and making decisions. One of the reasons that dopamine can be considered a loving female hormone is that high levels of dopamine has the effect of reducing inhibitions. While some impulse control is necessary, as any parent can testify, if the decision to have a child was based entirely on logic and preparedness, the world would contain very few people. During childbirth, oxytocin causes contractions, while dopamine reduces the pain of contractions. Dopamine also plays an important role in preventing or alleviating post-partum depression.

Production of Loving Female Hormones

New studies have shown that the body’s natural production of dopamine can be adversely affected by high levels of copper in the brain. Low levels of dopamine is believed to be one of the causes of post-partum depression. Luckily, there are things women can do to stimulate production of the loving female hormones that enable them to care for themselves as well as others. One article lists a number of natural ways to do just that.

The loving female hormones oxytocin and dopamine play a huge part in attraction, romance, and sexual arousal as well as reducing the pain of childbirth and helping new mothers successfully adapt to their roles as infant caretakers. Mothers would do well to remember that males produce these hormones as well, and with the exception of childbirth, for similar reasons. Perhaps one day, researchers will conduct a research experiment that reveals that men who are administered a dose of oxytocin respond to crying infants, too.

loving female hormones
Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Stolen Kiss, cc2.0
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