Oxytocin is the love hormone, and in my opinion, a hormone makes our world go round. It’s the hormone of community and connection, of love, compassion and kindness. In short, it makes you feel good.
Not just the birth and sex hormone, a menopause hormone too
We often think of oxytocin in relation to birth and early motherhood, but it does so much more! Oxytocin moderates the autonomic nervous system and the vagal pathway, it has anti-inflammatory effects, and is helps reduce physical aspects of stress such as blood pressure and cortisol levels. It is also really effective in reducing pain, and has powerful analgesic effects.
It is a brilliant hormone to have higher levels of during menopause, as it can counteract a lot of the physical challenges we face. Amongst other things is can
- regulate progesterone
- lower anxiety and depression
- reduce headaches
- improve sleep
- improve overall sense of wellbein
There is even a study which shows that an oxytocin gel can help with vaginal atrophy.
But, research shows that oxytocin seems to decline with oestrogen so what can you do to increase oxytocin?
Harnessing the power of oxytocin
Oxytocin has several characteristics – it’s also known as the shy hormone, so it likes to feel private and safe. It responds well to loving contact, being around people that make it feel comfortable and situations that are free of threat.
If there is heightened anxiety or you are on a higher state of alert you produce stress hormones such as adrenaline and nor-adrenaline – and you can’t produce oxytocin as the same time. They are what’s know as antagonists.
Imagine it as see saw effect.
How to increase oxytocin
There are ways to increase oxytocin and get the benefits of this important hormone
Hugs! There is research to show that hugs increase oxytocin, so many sure that you get hugs in, from friends, partners or children. Bank them when you can.
Calm spaces can really help. Your environment matters, create a space in your home that makes you feel safe, secure and calm. Spend time in this space doing something that you love
Make time for close friends. Spend time with people you really like, that you can laugh with and not have to be on your guard with. Are they someone that you can really relax and be yourself with?
Self-care. And by this I mean activities that make you feel contented and happy. A long bath, baking, crafting whatever makes you feel good.
Exercise! Exercise is shown to increase oxytocin levels, anything from tennis to yoga can help
Random Acts of Kindness. Studies have shown that giving happiness raises your own levels of oxytocin to think about what you can do to make someone else’s life better today.
Meditation. Especially Metta mediation, a loving kindness meditation. You can find one in my book Mindful Menopause.
Hypnosis tracks to increase wellbeing and reduce stress creates the perfect environment for oxytocin. You can download some for free at www.penguin.co.uk/mindfulmenopause