Menstrual cycle-related changes in plasma oxytocin are relevant to normal sexual function in health women

ArticleinHormones and Behavior 47(2):164-9 · March 2005with252 Reads
DOI: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2004.10.002 · Source: PubMed
Circulating levels of the neuro-hypophysial nonapeptide oxytocin increase during sexual arousal and orgasm in both men and women. A few studies have evaluated the effect of the menstrual cycle on plasma oxytocin in normally cycling, sexually active, healthy fertile women using or not using contraceptive pills. In 20 ovulating women and 10 women taking an oral contraceptive (group 1 and group 2, respectively), sexual function, hormonal profile, and plasma oxytocin (OT) were evaluated throughout the menstrual cycle. In group 1, plasma OT was significantly lower during the luteal phase in comparison with both the follicular and ovulatory phases. Plasma oxytocin was significantly correlated with the lubrication domain of the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) during the luteal phase and showed a trend towards statistical significance during the follicular phase. In group 2, plasma OT did not show any significant fluctuation throughout the menstrual cycle, even though a significant correlation was evident with both the arousal and the lubrication domain of the FSFI during the assumption of the contraceptive pill. These findings suggest that plasma OT fluctuates throughout the menstrual cycle in normally cycling healthy fertile women with adequate sexual activity but not taking any oral contraceptive pill. Moreover, plasma OT levels significantly relates to the genital lubrication in both women taking and not taking oral contraceptive pill apparently confirming its role in peripheral activation of sexual function.
    • "Interestingly, intranasal oxy administration evokes in women a marked increase of sexual desire, which is associated with vaginal transudate ( Dennerstein 1994, 1995). Finally, oxy levels fluctuate throughout the menstrual cycle in fertile women not using oral contraceptives; in particular during the luteal phase oxy plasma levels are lower compared to those observed in the ovulatory phase (Altemus et al., 2001; Salonia et al., 2005). Moreover, during the ovulation, the endogenous oxy activity is suppressed (Evans et al., 2003). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Oxytocin (oxy) is a pituitary neuropeptide hormone synthesized from the paraventricular and supraoptic nuclei within the hypothalamus. Like other neuropeptides, oxy can modulate a wide range of neurotransmitter and neuromodulator activities. Additionally, through the neurohypophysis, oxy is secreted into the systemic circulation to act as a hormone, thereby influencing several body functions. Oxy plays a pivotal role in parturition, milk let-down and maternal behavior and has been demonstrated to be important in the formation of pair bonding between mother and infants as well as in mating pairs. Furthermore, oxy has been proven to play a key role in the regulation of several behaviors associated with neuropsychiatric disorders, including social interactions, social memory response to social stimuli, decision-making in the context of social interactions, feeding behavior, emotional reactivity, etc. An increasing body of evidence suggests that deregulations of the oxytocinergic system might be involved in the pathophysiology of certain neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism, eating disorders, schizophrenia, mood, and anxiety disorders. The potential use of oxy in these mental health disorders is attracting growing interest since numerous beneficial properties are ascribed to this neuropeptide. The present manuscript will review the existing findings on the role played by oxy in a variety of distinct physiological and behavioral functions (Figure 1) and on its role and impact in different psychiatric disorders. The aim of this review is to highlight the need of further investigations on this target that might contribute to the development of novel more efficacious therapies. Figure 1Oxytocin regulatory control of different and complex processes.
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    • "The role of oxytocin in labour is well known, but there is evidence to suggest oxytocin is also present in the male reproductive tract, where it also modulates contractile activity (Frayne and Nicholson, 1998). Differences in the relationship between oxytocin and biological sex (i.e., male/female) may be an important factor to keep in mind when considering its potential use as an analgesic agent, considering the known relationship between oestrogen and oxytocin synthesis (Lim and Young, 2006), and the uncertain interaction between plasma hormonal levels between males and females (Salonia et al., 2005). Moreover, sex-specific oxytocin effects have been reported in males in relation to social distance (Scheele et al., 2012), generosity and empathy (Zak et al., 2007), trust (Lane et al., 2013), and the recall of human faces (Guastella et al., 2008). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In an acute environment pain has potential protective benefits. However when pain becomes chronic this protective effect is lost and the pain becomes an encumbrance. Previously unheralded substances are being investigated in an attempt to alleviate the burden of living with chronic pain. Oxytocin, a neuropeptide hormone, is one prospective pharmacotherapeutic agent gaining popularity. Oxytocin has the potential to modulate the pain experience due to its ubiquitous involvement in central and peripheral psychological and physiological processes, and thus offers promise as a therapeutic agent. In this review, we discuss previous effective applications of oxytocin in pain-free clinical populations and its potential use in the modulation of pain experience. We also address the slowly growing body of literature investigating the administration of oxytocin in clinical and experimentally induced pain in order to investigate the potential mechanisms of its reported analgesic actions. We conclude that oxytocin offers a potential novel avenue for modulating the experience of pain, and that further research into this area is required to map its therapeutic benefit. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    Full-text · Article · May 2015
    • "This is problematic since sex differences in the effects of OT administration on social cognition have been observed (Domes et al., 2010), potentially due to interactions with female sex steroids (McCarthy and Pfaus, 1996). Further, plasma OT levels may vary as a function of the menstrual cycle, with luteal phase decreases that are not observed in women taking oral contraceptives (Salonia et al., 2005). For these reasons, OT studies involving women participants should be optimized to control for variations in menstrual cycle status and conceptive use. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The neuropeptide oxytocin plays a critical role in social cognition and behavior. A number of studies using intranasal administration have demonstrated that oxytocin improves social perception. However, little is known about the relationship between individual differences in endogenous levels of oxytocin and social cognition. In the current study, we assessed the relationship between endogenous oxytocin and brain activity during an animacy perception paradigm. Thirty-seven male participants underwent scanning and provided a blood sample for oxytocin analysis. In line with previous research, perception of animacy was associated with activations in superior temporal sulcus, inferior frontal gyrus, and medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). Notably, participants' levels of plasma oxytocin robustly predicted activation in areas critical for social cognitive processes, such that higher oxytocin levels were related to increased activity in dorsal mPFC, ventral mPFC, dorsolateral PFC, superior temporal gyrus, and temporoparietal junction (TPJ), suggesting differential processing of social stimuli. Together these results show that stable variations in endogenous oxytocin levels explain individual differences in social perception.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2015
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