Friday Weird Science: Hyposexual, Hypersexual, and Oxytocin

Oh, you all thought oxytocin posts were DONE!? BY NO MEANS. For oxytocin lends itself to the truly weird science, and this one simply could not be ignored. In addition, Sci is compelled to blog this paper out of sympathy and understanding for the poor little grad student (or possibly the tech) who WITNESSED this entire experiment, on a weekly basis, for I don’t know how long. Oh you devoted servant of science, Sci takes her hat off to you this day.
…moment of silence… Pattij, et al. “Individual differences in male rat ejaculatory behavior: searching for models to study ejaculation disorders.” European Journal of Neuroscience, 2005.
We’ll get to what the poor student did in a minute.
So what, might you think, is the biggest problem in sexual dysfunction these days? From the abundance of couples in matching bathtubs and various other really awful commercials for Cialis and Viagra, etc, you’d really think it was erectile dysfunction. But in fact, there is ANOTHER sexual disorder that is possibly more common, and which has just as big of an impact on a guy’s sexual quality of life…
(Before you go below the fold, things possibly NSFW, blah de blah, it’s Friday, you should know this by now.)

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Friday Weird Science: Oxytocin in your Cavernosa

This post brought to you by Ben and Jerry’s Dublin Mudslide Ice Cream. Because the Twitter people are like little devils on my shoulder, making me eat the cake…
dublin mudslide.jpg
So Sci was going to do her final oxytocin post on another study in humans for oxytocin levels during male masturbation, but you know, you've seen one, you've seen them all. I know that they were looking at slightly different things, but…well…it all looked the same: oxytocin measured while a guy is in a room with some porn, measure some other stuff as well, look at the correlations. So Sci started digging around for something a little more unusual.
And when Sci saw this one, her little eyes brightened, and she said "oooooh! THAT ONE!"' much to the surprise of the nice evening janitorial lady in the lab. Because if you thought the LAST Friday Weird Science was one that you wouldn’t want to volunteer for…
…how would you like a butterfly needle in your penis? What, that’s not stimulating?! Uckert et al. “Oxytocin plasma levels in the systemic and cavernous blood of healthy males during different penile conditions” World Journal of Urology, 2003.
For those not in the know, a butterfly needle looks like this:
(Insert into penis pointy end first)
Yadda yadda. Photos below NSFW, yadda yadda. It’s Friday Weird Science, not like there’s going to be puppies and kittens here.

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Oxytocin: The Love Molecule?

And now Sci can finally get down to writing the hefty post in the oxytocin series, what she likes to call the effects on the soft stuff. The emotions, memory, trust, that kind of thing. She didn’t know if she’d make it, for verily, this little grad student hath earned her ramen this day in looooooong experiments and time slaving away in the salt mines laboratory. But she is here! Her ramen is eaten! And it is TIME!
Oxytocin: Effects on the State of Love and Trust
aka “The LOVE molecule?”
coffee love2.jpg
(Right now, this is Sci’s definition of love)
Sigh…Sci has heard so many people call oxytocin “the love molecule”. Almost as many people as she has heard call dopamine the “reward molecule”, or serotonin the “happy molecule”. Based on the previous examples, Sci now officially reserves the right to call norepinephrine the “holy s**t we’re going to DIE” molecule.
What do all these have in common? They are all SO MUCH MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT. But for now, we’re just going to stick to oxytocin. The “love molecule”?! You don’t know the half of it!

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Oxytocin: Let’s hear it for the boys!

Sci will be honest. The migraine continues apace. But the oxytocin, it must be blogged. And the migraine medication, it makes Sci loopy! Given what I’ll be blogging today, that might not be a bad thing…
devil's panties see thru time.png
(From the Devil’s Panties, which is a super-cute webcomic if you’re into geeks like Sci is. I met the artist once and she drew me one of these! Also, Sci would like to note that she does not use paint fumes as migraine medication.)
I’ve already gone through some of the basics of oxytocin, and the famous effects that oxytocin has on females. But what most general biology and physiology courses don’t tell you is the big role that oxytocin plays in MALES. This molecule isn’t just for the ladies.
Let’s hear it for the boys:

(Nothing says manly men like high kicks)

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Friday Weird Science: Oxytocin and the Big O

Rounding out Sci’s first week of the Great Oxytocin Posting of 2009 (oh yes, there will be two weeks of this, hang tight), we’ve gotta do something weird. And luckily for everyone, oxytocin does lend itself to the strange types of studies. Like multi-orgasmic studies. Complete with measurements of anal contraction. You know you wanna volunteer for this one.
And luckily for all of you, Sci is the one doing the reading and the retelling of this study. Because reading the methods for this one might cause you to do this:
(Sci reading the methods) Carmichael et al. “Relationships among cardiovascular, muscular, and oxytocin responses during human sexual activity”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 1994.

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Oxytocin: This one’s for the Ladies

Previously I posted on the general features of oxytocin, what it acts on, and where it basically acts, and what it’s mostly known for. But the reality is that oxytocin is a LOT more complicated than that, and has different effects of your body and your behavior, depending on who you are. It varies from person to person (as all biological things do) as well as between men and women. And today, we’re going to discuss the ladies. Because if there is anything oxytocin is famous for, it’s for its effects on women.
(Yes, yes, we will cover this bit).
You may have noticed lots of links in the previous post. Those links are to the literature which I searched before posting. There will be lots more links in this one to examples of studies which support what I’m going to tell you about. Of course, all of these are in science-ese, and so if you are puzzling over something and can’t make it out, give a shout out in the comments with the particular paper, and Sci will do her best to cover the paper later on. I have a feeling that oxytocin is going to be a recurring topic.
So here we go.
This one’s for the ladies

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Oxytocin: Starting with the basics

So sometimes, Sci gets questions, and sometimes those questions…are close enough to requests. And so, today Sci will begin what is probably going to be an extensive basic series on oxytocin. We ALL love oxytocin, right? Right! And we all missed Sci’s big honkin’ basic science posts right? Of course right!
So the question basically came down to this: What are the effects of oxytocin in female vs males, in particular the effects on sexual and bonding behavior, and how does this influence the autonomy of people (eg, are we really the tools of our hormones). The short answer: yes and no. The long answer: is very long. So today Sci is going to begin with a background post on oxytocin, what it is, where it acts, and some basic functions. The next post will be on effects of ocytocin in females specifically, and then a post on ocytocin in males specifically. And then, the synthesis. And interspersed in there, a few Friday Weird Sciences. I mean, oxytocin makes for some GREAT weird science. πŸ™‚ Keep in mind, though, that although Sci has done a boatload of research getting ready to blog this topic, she by no means going to hit ALL of EVERYTHING. She might have to blog some specific papers in the future, and she definitely welcomes anyone willing to chime in the comments with more info!
So here we go.
(Complicated molecule, complicated actions)

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Repost: Prairie Voles in Love

As a taste of things to come. πŸ™‚
For your Friday Weird Science, I present to you a Poem! And I shall call it “Prairie Voles in Love: An Ode to Oxytocin”
Out on the lonely prairie, gazing at the stars above
I saw through the night
the wondrous sight
Of prairie voles in love
‘Twas truly a miracle to see
this display of monogamy
Monogamy, subject of vast debates
In only 3% of mammals, mostly primates
But here on the prairie, in burrows and holes
whole colonies of uxorious voles!
But who could love a prairie vole?
More handsome is a lump of coal!
The rodents are small,
hairy, buck-toothed and all
Though whiskers are cute, with bright eyes above,
That’s a face only a mother could love!
Alas, love is not for their minds to control
The hormones must their hearts console
The posterior pituitary is something great
For forming pair-bonds with your chosen mate!
And for voles together through thick and thin
There is nothing better than oxytocin.
The posterior pituiary, the neurohypophysis
The place the love glow from pair-bonding is.
Without oxytocin, the voles just get laid
There is nothing from which pairings can be made.
The females needed oxytocin for when the morning came
Or male voles were kicked out, to do the walk of shame.
But it turns out that oxytocin is just for a girl
The boys need vasopressin to make their toes curl
ADH can turn those dead-beat dads
who otherwise would be bounders and cads
into a model husband, father, and mate
who any smart girl vole would kill to date.
No miracle, this monogamous bliss
So when your lover walks out
Don’t waste time, scream, or shout,
Look to your neurohypophysis!
I am a HUGE geek. I know. Even my advisor tells me so. Ack! I’m still rhyming!!
Insel, T.R., Winslow, J.R., Wang, Z.X., Young, L., Hulihan, T.J. (1995). Oxytocin and the molecular basis of monogamy. Advances in Experimental and Medical Biology, 395(1), 227-234.