Oxytocin acts as a chemical messenger and stimulates maternal bonding, while also stimulating the uterus to contract during child birth and lactation to occur after childbirth. The hormone also contributes to anxiety, sexual arousal, recognition and trust.
Oxytocin is often referred to as the love hormone, because it is present in both males and females and affects sperm movement and testosterone production. Non-pregnant rats and sheep that are given oxytocin show rapid behavioral changes that are maternal in nature. Synthetic oxytocin is manufactured to help speed up labor for women who aren't having strong enough contractions. Oxytocin is released naturally when the neurons in the brain's hypothalamus region are stimulated.