Methods to Increase Oxytocin Levels

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Oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter crucial in social bonding, reproduction, and childbirth. Oxytocin is often referred to as the "love hormone" or the "cuddle hormone" because in moments of intimacy, such as hugging, kissing, and sex, release the hormone.

Violet Lee

April 26 2024

Oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter crucial in social bonding, reproduction, and childbirth. Oxytocin is often referred to as the "love hormone" or the "cuddle hormone" because in moments of intimacy, such as hugging, kissing, and sex, release the hormone.

Here are some ways to naturally boost oxytocin levels:

Try yoga:

This wellness practice offers plenty of benefits, including...

However, research from the 2013 Trusted Source suggests yoga may help increase oxytocin production, too. This study explores whether yoga could help increase oxytocin in people with schizophrenia, a mental health condition that often involves trouble recognizing facial emotions and other social difficulties.

Listen to music or make your own:

While musical taste can vary widely from person to person, most people enjoy listening to some music. You probably listen to music because you enjoy it, but you might have noticed it has other benefits, like improving your mood, focus, and motivation. It also seems to help improve the ability to create social bonds, an effect also associated with oxytocin.

Get (or give) a massage:

  • If you love a good massage, you're in luck.
  • A 2012 study by a trusted source that looked at 95 adults found evidence to suggest that 15 minutes of massage could help people relax and boost oxytocin levels.
  • Research from 2015 supports this finding and expands on it, noting that oxytocin levels also increase in the person giving the massage.

From the oxytocin released, people often report less pain, stress, and anxiety post-massage. Many also notice an improved mood and greater feelings of well-being. You don't have to get a professional massage to see these benefits. Research suggests that massage from a partner or other loved one may work just as well.

Tell someone how much you care:

Sharing your love and affection with the people who mean the most to you can help increase oxytocin in a few ways.

  • Sharing your feelings with a loved one often leads them to reply in kind.
  • Telling a friend or partner you love them can prompt a hug, hand squeeze, or kiss.
  • Letting someone know how much you appreciate them can increase warm-hearted feelings.

Spend time with friends:

Strong friendships can make a big difference in your emotional well-being. Living it up with your pals can make for a good time, but it can also help you feel socially supported and less alone.

That's oxytocin at work. The good feelings you experience around your friends can help you feel more positive about your interactions, making you want to spend more time together. Your trust and affection for them increase when you share their company more often.

Whether you make specific plans or enjoy hanging out, the more time you spend together, the stronger your bond will likely become.


A daily meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and help you feel more compassion toward yourself and others. These effects can go a long way toward increasing your sense of connection and strengthening your relationships with others.

Focusing your meditation on someone you care about will also target oxytocin production. Loving-kindness meditation, also referred to as compassion meditation, involves directing thoughts of love, compassion, and goodwill toward someone in your life and sending thoughts of peace and wellness toward them.

Are you new to meditation? Here's how to get started.

Make your conversations count:

Active (or empathic) listening is fundamental to strong social interactions and relationships.

Bonding and increasing feelings of connection, trust, and empathy can sometimes be as easy as genuinely listening to what someone says. It's easy to tell someone you care about what matters to them, but this shows you mean it.

So, when your friend or partner wants to discuss something important, put down anything that might distract you, make eye contact, and give them your complete attention. This close interaction can trigger oxytocin release, helping you feel more connected to each other.

Cook (and eat) with someone you care about:

Research on chimpanzeesTrusted Source suggests sharing food can increase oxytocin.

It makes sense for humans to share food; it is a great way to bond. Think back to your middle school or elementary days. Splitting that cookie or fruit snack packet may have made you a friend or two, right?

Preparing a meal with friends or a partner can provide enjoyment and nourishment. You don't just share the finished meal. You spend time with people you like and bond over its creation.

And don't forget, eating itself can produce pleasure enough, in fact, to trigger oxytocin release.

Have sex:

Sexual intimacy orgasm, in particular, is one fundamental way to raise oxytocin levels and demonstrate affection for someone else.

Having sex with a romantic partner can help you feel closer and more connected, but you can still see this increase in oxytocin without a relationship. No-strings-attached sex can still improve your mood and make you feel pretty great.

The best part? Both you and your partner get this oxytocin boost.

Cuddle or hug:

Hugs, hand-holding, and cuddling can also trigger oxytocin production in your body.
So take a few moments for a long hug with your partner, kid, or pet.

Do something nice for someone:

Altruistic or selfless behaviors can also promote oxytocin release.

Giving someone a gift or practicing a random act of kindness makes them happy, which can make you feel happy, too. The simple act of brightening someone's day can lift your spirits and promote positive feelings in you, too.

So, if you can, live life generously. You might try:

  • Offering to help a neighbor with a chore
  • Giving a few extra dollars to charity
  • Supporting your favorite cause
  • Buying a gift card for a friend or family member

Pet dogs:

If you're a dog lover, we have a tip for you!

Stop what you're doing and pet your dog if you can. Feel better? Your dog probably does, too. Research suggests that both dogs and humans see increased oxytocin from physical contact, including patting and stroking.

That's why cuddling your animal friend can feel so comforting when upset. The oxytocin produced by your interaction helps you feel a little better.

Though this research only looked at human-dog interactions, it's pretty safe to say petting your cat or giving your bird some head scratches will probably have a similar effect.

The bottom line:

Oxytocin research isn't conclusive, and there's still plenty for experts to discover about this hormone, including its benefits and whether there's such a thing as too much of it.

One thing is sure, though: Oxytocin, while beneficial, isn't a cure. It can't repair a damaged relationship, give you empathy, or help you become more trusting on its own.

If you notice difficulties in your relationships or social interactions, it's best to seek professional guidance from a therapist. A therapist can help you explore possible causes and take steps to build stronger bonds with others.



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