Medical Definition of Oxytocin

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Oxytocin: A hormone made in the brain that plays a role in childbirth and lactation by causing muscles to contract in the uterus (womb) and the mammary glands in the breast. Animal studies have shown that oxytocin also has a role in pair bonding, mate-guarding, and social memory.

Oxytocin is a peptide (a compound consisting of 2 or more amino acids) that is secreted by the hypothalamus and transported to the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. Oxytocin is related to another hormone called vasopressin.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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