Oxytocin_fidelity_web

Sniff of fidelity

Actress Sharon Stone famously said that while women might be able to fake orgasms, men can fake entire relationships. There is a theory that due to biology men are innately more likely to be unfaithful than women. You might hope that in an affluent modern society, liberated from the biological needs that drove our evolution we would have transcended these primitive urges and be operating from a higher level. A glance around any nightclub though might shake your conviction that we have evolved so far. So ladies if you are touch concerned that your man may not be as hopelessly devoted as you would like then a new study suggesting that a hormone spray can increase fidelity might be of interest.

The hormone in question is the much touted oxytocin referred to variously as the “trust” hormone or the “cuddle” hormone. Oxytocin is a neuropeptide hormone that has effects throughout the nervous system. One of its major actions is to suppress the activity of the brain region known as the amygdala, the area that processes fear and communicates it to the rest of the brain. It is released during hugging, touching, and orgasm in both sexes. In women it is also released in large amounts after distension of the cervix and vagina during labour, and after stimulation of the nipples, facilitating birth and breastfeeding, respectively.

In the new study researchers gave nasal spray containing oxytocin to healthy heterosexual men. Other men in the study were given no spray. After 45 minutes during which the men were kept engaged an attractive woman entered the room and either moved to be close to the men or further away. The men were questioned as to whether the woman was at an “ideal distance” or a “slightly uncomfortable proximity”.

All of the men, whether they had been given oxytocin or not, reported the woman as being attractive. So the hormone did not alter the men’s perception of how the woman looked. However, men given oxytocin were more likely to stay away from the woman. This effect was true for men in a relationship but not for single men. That is, it appears that oxytocin is prompting fidelity or faithfulness even when men find another woman attractive.

So ladies if you have concerns about your partner you could look at having him sniff a little oxytocin although there are more fun ways to stimulate oxytocin release and they will probably bind you more than sticking something up his nostril anyway. Then again, if you are relying on stimulating a hormone to keep him faithful the maybe he’s not the right ape, I mean “man”, for you?

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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