The biosynthesis of the different forms of OT
Oxytocin (ball-and-stick) bound to its carrier protein neurophysin (ribbons)

Peptide hormone and neuropeptide normally produced in the hypothalamus and released by the posterior pituitary.

- Oxytocin

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Lactation describes the secretion of milk from the mammary glands and the period of time that a mother lactates to feed her young.

Kittens nursing
Lactating female coyote with visible teats
Milk secretion from a human breast
Breastfeeding (Correct Latch-On Position)
Breastfeeding a newborn baby
Breastfeeding of an older child

Oxytocin is critical for the milk let-down reflex in response to suckling.

Posterior pituitary

Posterior lobe of the pituitary gland which is part of the endocrine system.

Pituitary gland. Posterior pituitary is in blue and Anterior pituitary is in orange. Pars nervosa and infundibular stalk are not labeled, but pars nervosa is at bottom and infundibular stalk is at top.
The posterior pituitary comprises the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland.

Instead, it is largely a collection of axonal projections from the hypothalamus that terminate behind the anterior pituitary, and serve as a site for the secretion of neurohypophysial hormones (oxytocin and vasopressin) directly into the blood.


Portion of the brain that contains a number of small nuclei with a variety of functions.

Location of the human hypothalamus
Median sagittal section of brain of human embryo of three months
Endocrine glands in the human head and neck and their hormones
Cross-section of the monkey hypothalamus displays two of the major hypothalamic nuclei on either side of the fluid-filled third ventricle.
Hypothalamic nuclei
Hypothalamic nuclei on one side of the hypothalamus, shown in a 3-D computer reconstruction<ref>Brain Research Bulletin 35:323–327, 1994</ref>
Human brain left dissected midsagittal view
Location of the hypothalamus

In mammals, magnocellular neurosecretory cells in the paraventricular nucleus and the supraoptic nucleus of the hypothalamus produce neurohypophysial hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin.


Neuropeptides are chemical messengers made up of small chains of amino acids that are synthesized and released by neurons.

Neuropeptide Y

Oxytocin in the supraoptic nucleus co-exists with enkephalin, dynorphin, cocaine-and amphetamine regulated transcript (CART) and cholecystokinin.


Ending of pregnancy where one or more babies leaves the uterus by passing through the vagina or by Caesarean section.

Newborn baby and mother with vernix covering on the baby
A Luristan bronze fibula showing a woman giving birth between two antelopes, ornamented with flowers. From Iran, 1000 to 650 BC, at the Louvre museum.
Sequence of images showing the stages of ordinary childbirth
The hormones initiating labour
US births by time of day
Engagement of the fetal head
Stages in the birth of the baby's head
Newborn rests as caregiver checks breath sounds
Share of births attended by skilled health staff
Oxytocin facilitates labour and will follow a positive feedback loop.
Mechanical fetal injury may be caused by improper rotation of the fetus.
810 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. 94% occur in low and lower middle-income countries.
Medieval woman, having given birth, enjoying her lying-in (postpartum confinement). France, 14th century
Cost of childbirth in several countries in 2012.
Model of pelvis used in the beginning of the 19th century to teach technical procedures for a successful childbirth. Museum of the History of Medicine, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Kangaroo care by father in Cameroon.

During the later stages of gestation there is an increase in abundance of oxytocin, a hormone that is known to evoke feelings of contentment, reductions in anxiety, and feelings of calmness and security around the mate.

Human sexual activity

Manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality.

This Indian Kama sutra illustration, which shows a woman on top of a man, depicts the male erection, which is one of the physiological responses to sexual arousal for men.
A rolled-up male condom
Sexual intercourse in the missionary position
An Ottoman miniature from the book Sawaqub al-Manaquib depicting homosexuality
A 1925 Gerda Wegener painting, "Les delassements d'Eros" ("The recreations of Eros"), of two women engaged in sexual activity in bed.
A man handcuffed to a bed and blindfolded

From a biochemical perspective, sex causes the release of oxytocin and endorphins and boosts the immune system.

Oxytocin (medication)

A bag of oxytocin for intravenous infusion

Synthetic oxytocin, sold under the brand name Pitocin among others, is a medication made from the peptide oxytocin.

Maternal bond

Relationship between a mother and her child.

A human mother holds up her child.
Mother sea lion and pup.
A mother Yellow-bellied Marmot kissing her pup.

Production of oxytocin during childbirth and lactation increases parasympathetic activity.


Sudden discharge of accumulated sexual excitement during the sexual response cycle, resulting in rhythmic muscular contractions in the pelvic region characterized by sexual pleasure.

Sinnenrausch (ca. 1890), by Franciszek Żmurko
Jupiter and Juno, by Annibale Carracci
Frenzy of Exultations (1894) by Władysław Podkowiński

The period after orgasm (known as the refractory period) is typically a relaxing experience, attributed to the release of the neurohormones oxytocin and prolactin as well as endorphins (or "endogenous morphine").

Human bonding

Process of development of a close, interpersonal relationship between two or more people.

Parental bonds often help children form their identity
A mother breast feeding—a process that facilitates mother–infant bonding.
Father playing with his daughter—an activity that tends to strengthen the father–child bond.
A child bonding with a cat. Human to animal contact is known to reduce the physiological characteristics of stress.

The maternal bond begins to develop during pregnancy; following pregnancy, the production of oxytocin during lactation increases parasympathetic activity, thus reducing anxiety and theoretically fostering bonding.