Can Taking Oxytocin Supplements – the “Love Hormone” – Fix Your Marriage?

Couple Love

Using oxytocin, the “love hormone,” is unlikely to be a magic treatment for repairing marriages.

New study finds that oxytocin supplements are unlikely to mend your marriage.

According to a University of Essex study, using the “love hormone” is unlikely to be a magic treatment for repairing marriages. The research, conducted in partnership with Cardiff University, found that therapy improves men’s ability to read emotions better than oxytocin dosage, which is naturally produced and plays a key function in regulating behavior, such as emotions and personal relationships.

This is despite the fact that nasal sprays of the hormone are being touted as a possible cure for mending strained relationships, strengthening parental bonding, and even reducing body fat. The study, however, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, found that the solutions had no effect on the more than 100 healthy males who participated in the study.

According to Dr. Katie Daughters, the study, which was conducted with colleagues in Cardiff, demonstrated that we need to learn more about oxytocin before employing it as a treatment.

She said: “Our study serves as an important reminder that oxytocin may not always be the most effective tool when trying to improve the social lives and mental health of others. There are lots of studies examining whether oxytocin can increase a particular desired outcome, but relatively few studies have actually compared whether oxytocin is better than something else which is also designed to increase the same outcome.”

She continues, “In our study, we wanted to improve people’s ability to recognize emotions, as individuals who struggle to recognize emotions are at an increased risk of developing poor mental health. We found that in healthy young men, those who completed our computer-based emotion training program were better at recognizing some emotions, but those who had oxytocin showed no benefit.”

As part of the study, Dr. Daughters recruited 104 healthy men with an average age of 19 who were tested in a randomized, double-blind study.

Some were given intranasal oxytocin, others a placebo, and then took some took part in either an accredited emotional training program – known as the Cardiff Emotion Recognition Training program – or a mock training program. They were then quickly shown faces that had been morphed into different levels of emotion.

It emerged that the training helped identify sad and angry faces – but oxytocin has no effect whatsoever.

Dr. Daughters says more research is now needed to test oxytocin with women and on those who suffer from psychological disorders.

It is still hoped the hormone could be used to help those with autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, and women with post-natal depression – who struggle with emotion recognition.

Dr. Daughters added: “Many of us are interested in the potential oxytocin has to improve the social lives of individuals, however, if other methods are found to be as effective, or better then we need to be open to these as well. Our current understanding of how oxytocin sprays work suggests that, in their current form, it may not be a practical solution. In particular, the beneficial effects of oxytocin that we want to bolster only last for several hours.”

She concludes, “On the other hand, computer-based psychological interventions, like helping someone to recognize different emotional expressions and how to interpret their meaning in different scenarios, may not only provide longer-lasting beneficial impact but also cost less.”

Reference: “Oxytocin administration versus emotion training in healthy males: considerations for future research” by Katie Daughters, D. Aled Rees, Laura Hunnikin, Amy Wells, Jeremy Hall and Stephanie van Goozen, 11 July 2022, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2021.0056

10 Comments on "Can Taking Oxytocin Supplements – the “Love Hormone” – Fix Your Marriage?"

  1. People are getting married for the wrong reasons are why marriages need “fixing”.

    People are getting married for strictly transactional purposes; hoping to fill something they are incapable of (being complete, money, etc.) and dooming the marriage themselves from the getgo.
    If you are in no need of another, but want to share with another, THIS is the ideal reason to get married.

  2. Selectively Single | August 21, 2022 at 6:21 am | Reply

    Nevermind marriage, can the chemical supplement keep me single? Because the pickings for myself for a suitable mate are slim to none.

  3. Of course computer based emotional training is not improved by oxytocin. Were the participants supposed to bond with the program? Oxytocin is a very powerful hormone with multiple systemic effects and has to be used in conjunction with those effects to validate any treatment efficacy.

  4. Curious. The study involved only males as the study subjects. No women were included. On the strength of the gender stereotype that all women can read emotions and have no problem forming close emotional bonds, and that it’s men who are emotionally clueless and have no idea how to nurture trust and intimacy. Hilarious. Before these researchers write off oxytocin as of no material benefit, they might consider testing it on women. It might help a lot of marriages.

  5. You know what will never work when it comes to fixing your relationship? A clinical approach. Relationships are not diseases to be cured, or mental problems to be fixed. They are a commitment to be made, work to be done, Love to be enacted and performed. Humans are not meatsacks, as much as our culture seems to be desperate in trying to make us so. It’s not anti-science to apply a little bit of humanity and emotional intelligence to life, and it has wondrous results

  6. I find it interesting that absent in this study or even in the comments, there is no mention of a person’s upbringing and familial connections. Sorry folks, but we learn a lot more about love and relationships based on our parent’s interactions and relationship to their spouse and children. It becomes far more important to look at how we are raised. Consequently we tend to ‘parent’ ourselves, and treat our relationships subconsciously in this same manner. It is astounding how parenting style, sex of child, trauma, connection or abandonment/neglect can a/effect our future relationships. Merely adding the ‘bonding hormone’ oxytocin into a male (or female) is a weak attempt at expecting this to fix struggling relationships. It’s also quite telling that they utilised ‘a computer based intervention’ to ‘teach’ recognition of emotions. Again, expecting a programme, artificial intelligence, to fix attachment issues and emotions will not fix what is missing. Has no one ever read the studies of capuchin moneys who were separated from their mothers and were placed into split cages containing both a metal armature dispensing warm milk and the other a warm fuzzy representation of mum.
    The monkeys drank their milk and moved back into the side of the cuddly stand-in. The monkeys behaviour and attachment style was very similar to children raised in Romanian orphanages. The ratio of children to caregivers was abysmal. The children had very limited touching, cuddling, and bonding. This resulted in children having difficulty in reading faces and emotions of others. These children had not bonded and tended to have avoidant personality disorders.
    Modeling love and connection, listening, interacting, cuddling and touch are far more beneficial in the long run. I think ANY behavioural intervention that aids in helping us to identify and ultimately address our issues with relationships to ourselves and others is key.

  7. Realize if your chasing a good feeling like a puppy dog your not actually in love right. Love comes after all the bs of fronting and losing that initial chemical response.

    No works equals dead. Meds just prolong the dying if you just up and leave cause you only want that feeling from the start.

  8. Tho the Bible marriage comes from says it’s a choice as well. It’s deciding to Do what’s right for eachother and lead eachother to God/Jesus nut many don’t even live as one like it says to do.

    As Even sins are shared between a couple as each others responsibility. Also not supposed to drink to where it impairs you and use things that alter the mind. Artificial things probably not ok…

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