A Facebook post claims that women have a finite supply of the hormone oxytocin.
“Women release oxytocin during sex,” the post reads. “Oxytocin runs out. Each time a woman has sex with a new partner, her stores run lower and she is less able to pair bond with someone.”
The post concludes that after 10-15 sexual partners, oxytocin levels are depleted.
But this is false. Oxytocin is a hormone naturally produced by the body and does not permanently deplete.
“The body does not have a finite supply of oxytocin, like any hormone or neurotransmitter, you make (more) all the time. You make it new, it is used and broken down,” Associate Professor Femke Buisman-Pijlman, an expert on oxytocin and its impact on mental health at the Univeristy of Melbourne, told AAP FactCheck in an email.
A variety of health factors such as depressive symptoms can contribute to low oxytocin levels, but it is not depleted permanently by being released.
Oxytocin is often called the love hormone because it is released during romantic activity such as hugging, kissing or sex, creating positive feelings.
However, the hormone also serves a variety of other functions in the body, and promotes social connection in non-romantic contexts as well. For example, oxytocin is released by both parties when owners pet their dogs.
“There are many things that stimulate the release of oxytocin. In everyone, this includes romantic activities such as hugging, kissing and sex, but also non-romantic social situations such as connecting with family and friends, caring for babies and children, singing together with others, and even bonding with pets,” they said in an email to AAP FactCheck.
They said oxytocin plays an important role in a variety of other bodily processes, particularly during childbirth and breastfeeding. The hormone also plays a role in male sexual function and the production of testosterone.
Oxytocin is released in response to stimulus and used for other functions by the body frequently throughout a person’s life.
Dr Thomas and Dr Larkin rejected the claim that anyone has a finite supply of oxytocin, or that sex alone would deplete it.
“Scientific studies show that in both men and women, oxytocin rises during sexual activity and peaks during orgasm, and returns to baseline levels afterwards. But oxytocin function and production in the body is not affected in any way by having multiple sexual partners,” they said.
“There are no studies finding that sex depletes oxytocin levels over time or that having multiple partners reduces oxytocin levels.”
Oxytocin is often the source of sexist myths, example here.
The claim that every time a woman has a new sexual partner her oxytocin levels diminish until they are eventually depleted is false.
Oxytocin is constantly produced by the body, and while it is released during sex it returns to normal levels afterwards, according to experts and medical studies.
False – The claim is inaccurate.