Two separate studies reveal new discoveries about oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone.” Researchers from the Hannover Medical School in Germany say the hormone may intensify orgasms, but researchers from the University in Amsterdam in The Netherlands say it could also increase racism, making people love only those who are in their in-group.
In the study from Professor of Psychology Carsten de Dreu of the University of Amsterdam, researchers looked at males who were told to choose five out of six people who would gain access to a life-saving boat. The men, who were given oxytocin, were more likely to reject those who they did not feel familiar with, selecting only people from their in-group. Men, who were given a placebo, seemed to be more willing to randomly select people to hop on the imaginary life-saving boat.
De Dreu says, “Oxytocin increases in-group favoritism and derogation of others. It may also lead to emerging intergroup conflicts and violence.”
Another study from researchers of the Hannover Medical School in Germany says that oxytocin may not only increase racism, but may also intensify orgasms. For the study, researchers asked 29 couples to take a nasal spray with oxytocin or a placebo spray prior to having sex in their usual environment. Participants of the study were then asked to complete a survey with questions regarding their sexual intercourse and their thoughts about the other person.
Although oxytocin did not seem to affect sex drive and arousal for both men and women, the data did show that participants experienced stronger orgasms and greater satisfaction after sex. This was particularly the case for men, who more than women, stated to feel sexually satisfied after having sex on oxytocin.
For women, oxytocin increased their ability to express their sexual desire to their partner, as well as their ability to understand their partner’s needs during sex. Oxytocin did not affect vaginal lubrication for women or the erectile function for men.
Researchers say, “The study shows that oxytocin could change some parts of sexual encounters and the relationship of partners, but even though it seemed to intensify the orgasm, the positive effect was not largely increased.” The average rated satisfaction in men was only slightly higher than those who were given the placebo nasal spray. According to researchers, oxytocin is already present during sexual intercourse, hence adding more oxytocin may not affect the experience that much.
During orgasms, oxytocin is released from the brain’s pituitary gland, but while previous studies have shown that the hormone plays a role in relationship bonding, the researchers from the Hannover Medical School are the first to study whether higher levels of the hormone affect the sexual behavior in healthy couples.
For the study, all couples reported to not have experienced sexual problems, yet further studies are required to back up the findings of this study. Additionally, researchers say they are also interested to see if oxytocin could potentially help intensify sexual drive and orgasms for those who suffer from sexual dysfunction, but at the same time, researchers from the University of Amsterdam say racism may be a negative side effect.
By Diana Herst