noun, plural: pitocins
The commercial form of oxytocin used chiefly to induce labor and control postnatal hemorrage
Pitocin is the commercial form of oxytocin. Oxytocin is a peptide hormone naturally produced by vertebrates, including humans. The hormone is produced in the hypothalamus and is stored and released by the pituitary gland. It is released into the circulation to reach target cells. For instance, it stimulates the smooth muscle of the uterine wall. It induces uterine contraction. Its activity is an example of a positive feedback loop. That is the release of oxytocin is amplified by uterine contraction. In turn, it increases uterine contractions. This loop continues throughout labour. Apart from uterine contraction, the oxytocin is also involved in the stimulation of nipples of the mother to aid in milk ejection during breastfeeding of the newborn.
Pitocin is a pharmacologic oxytocin that is used as a medication. In particular, it is administered in order to induce and/or speed up labor. It is also used to stop bleeding following delivery. It is administered by injecting it into a muscle or into a vein. It may also be given as a buccal tablet (although no longer popular), by nasal administration, by sublingually, and orally.
Potential side effects (although uncommon) include increased blood pressure, impaired uterine blood flow, cardiac arrhythmia, subarachnoid hemorrhage, anaphylaxis, nausea, vomiting, etc.