Does Pitocin (oxytocin) cause side effects?

Pitocin (oxytocin) is a protein produced by the pituitary gland of mammals including man. Pitocin is a man-made version of oxytocin used to stimulate contraction of the uterus. Pitocin works by increasing the concentration of calcium inside muscle cells that control contraction of the uterus. Increased calcium increases contraction of the uterus. 

Common side effects of Pitocin include

Serious side effects of Pitocin include

Drug interactions of Pitocin include mefloquine. Pitocin should not be used during pregnancy unless for inducing labor or abortion.

Pitocin may be secreted in breast milk. Mothers should not breastfeed for at least one day after stopping Pitocin.

What are the important side effects of Pitocin (oxytocin)?

Side effects of oxytocin include:

Pitocin (oxytocin) side effects list for healthcare professionals

The following adverse reactions have been reported in the mother:

Excessive dosage or hypersensitivity to the drug may result in

  • uterine hypertonicity,
  • spasm,
  • tetanic contraction, or
  • rupture of the uterus.

The possibility of increased blood loss and afibrinogenemia should be kept in mind when administering the drug.

Severe water intoxication with convulsions and coma has occurred, associated with a slow oxytocin infusion over a 24-hour period. Maternal death due to oxytocin-induced water intoxication has been reported.

The following adverse reactions have been reported in the fetus or neonate:

Due to induced uterine motility:Due to use of oxytocin in the mother:
BradycardiaLow Apgar scores at five minutes
Premature ventricular contractions and other arrhythmiasNeonatal jaundice
Permanent CNS or brain damageNeonatal retinal hemorrhage
Fetal death
Neonatal seizures have been reported with the use of Pitocin.

For medical advice about adverse reactions contact your medical professional. To report suspected adverse reactions, contact JHP at 1-866-923-2547 or MEDWATCH at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1- 800-332-1088) or

What drugs interact with Pitocin (oxytocin)?

Severe hypertension has been reported when oxytocin was given three to four hours following prophylactic administration of a vasoconstrictor in conjunction with caudal block anesthesia.

Cyclopropane anesthesia may modify oxytocin's cardiovascular effects, so as to produce unexpected results such as hypotension. Maternal sinus bradycardia with abnormal atrioventricular rhythms has also been noted when oxytocin was used concomitantly with cyclopropane anesthesia.

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Medically Reviewed on 7/27/2020
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Professional side effects and drug interactions sections courtesy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.