[ aak-see-tow-sn ]

Oxytocin is a hormone that has various benefits for social interaction, sexual health, mood, inflammation, appetite, and water retention. When given to people, it can increase trust and generosity, reduce fear of social betrayal, and enhance empathy. It can also improve recognition of positive social cues, increase romantic attraction and attachment in males, and help promote fidelity within monogamous relationships. However, some studies have shown that oxytocin can also increase negative emotions such as envy and "Schadenfreude" (joy at the pain of others).

In terms of sexual health, oxytocin plays a prominent role in female sexual function and mediates romantic bonding in both men and women. While there is some evidence that intranasal oxytocin can improve sexual function, it has not been consistently shown to do so. Oxytocin can also evoke feelings of contentment and trust, reduce social anxiety, and potentially prevent neuroinflammation and protect neurons in the developing brain. Additionally, oxytocin neurons in the hypothalamus may help suppress appetite under normal conditions, but are absent in Prader-Willi syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes uncontrollable eating and obesity. Finally, due to its similarity to vasopressin, oxytocin can reduce water excretion and sodium.