Article

More frequent partner hugs and higher oxytocin levels are linked to lower blood pressure and heart rate in premenopausal women

Department of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina, CB 7175 Medical Building A, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7175, USA.
Biological Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.47). 05/2005; 69(1):5-21. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2004.11.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In animals, ventral stroking for >5 days increases oxytocin (OT) activity and decreases blood pressure (BP), but related human studies are few. Thus, relationships between self-reported frequency of partner hugs, plasma OT and BP levels were examined in 59 premenopausal women before and after warm contact with their husbands/partners ending with hugs. Higher baseline OT before partner contact was associated with lower BP and heart rate, and met criteria to be a partial mediator of the lower resting BP shown by women reporting more frequent hugs (P<0.05). OT levels during post-contact stress were unrelated to hugs or BP. Menstrual cycle phase did not influence any OT measure. Thus, frequent hugs between spouses/partners are associated with lower BP and higher OT levels in premenopausal women; OT-mediated reduction in central adrenergic activity and peripheral effects of OT on the heart and vasculature are pathways to examine in future research.

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Available from: Karen M Grewen, Jul 29, 2015
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    • "The converse may also occur, with neuropeptide levels changing in response to behavioral variations in socio-sexual and affiliative behavior . For instance, partner support modulates the rise of OT plasma levels in both men and women [15] and physical contact (such as massaging, hugging and/or grooming) promotes the elevation of OT levels in humans and other primates and also in rodents [8] [16] [17]. In pairbonded tamarins, OT levels relate to the amount of grooming and mutual contact in females and sexual behavior of males [18]. "
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    • "e l s e v i e r . c o m / l o c a t e / p h b quality, more frequent partner's massages and hugs, and greater social support were related to higher OT levels [19] [28] [29]. Larger social networks , fewer negative marital interactions, less attachment avoidance, and more attachment security were related to greater endogenous AVP levels [18]. "
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    • "In monogamous pairs, either 'romantic' human couples (Borrow and Cameron, 2012; Carter, 2014; Carter and Porges, 2013; Grewen et al., 2005; Light et al., 2005) or long-term attached pairs of rodents like prairie voles (Cho et al., 1999; Williams et al., 1992a; Williams et al., 1992b), the affiliative effects of OT have been extensively documented (Carter, 2014; Carter et al., 1995; Insel, 2010; Insel and Shapiro, 1992; Lukas et al., 2011; Neumann, 2008; Ross et al., 2009; Snowdon et al., 2010; Young et al., 2005). "
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