Oxytocin Side Effects

It is possible that some side effects of oxytocin may not have been reported. These can be reported to the FDA here. Always consult a healthcare professional for medical advice.

For the Consumer

Applies to oxytocin: solution

As well as its needed effects, oxytocin may cause unwanted side effects that require medical attention.

If any of the following side effects occur while taking oxytocin, check with your doctor or nurse immediately:

Rare
  • Confusion
  • convulsions (seizures)
  • difficulty in breathing
  • dizziness
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • headache (continuing or severe)
  • hives
  • pelvic or abdominal pain (severe)
  • skin rash or itching
  • vaginal bleeding (increased or continuing)
  • weakness
  • weight gain (rapid)
Incidence not known
  • Abdominal pain or cramping
  • blood clotting problem that causes prolonged bleeding
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • cough
  • difficulty swallowing
  • extra heartbeats
  • fainting
  • lightheadedness
  • pounding or rapid pulse
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • severe bleeding after giving birth
  • shortness of breath
  • tightness in the chest
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • wheezing

If any of the following symptoms of overdose occur while taking oxytocin, get emergency help immediately:

Symptoms of overdose
  • Restlessness
  • shakiness
  • sleepiness
  • slow to respond
  • slurred speech
  • unconsciousness

Some oxytocin side effects may not need any medical attention. As your body gets used to the medicine these side effects may disappear. Your health care professional may be able to help you prevent or reduce these side effects, but do check with them if any of the following side effects continue, or if you are concerned about them:

Rare
  • Nausea
  • vomiting

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to oxytocin: compounding powder, injectable solution

Cardiovascular

Cardiovascular side effects have included hypertension, premature ventricular contractions, sinus tachycardia, and other cardiac arrhythmias. Neonatal bradycardia, premature ventricular contractions and other arrhythmias have been reported.[Ref]

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects have included mania-like disturbances and seizures. The seizures may have been related to water intoxication. Neonatal seizures and permanent CNS or brain damage has been reported.[Ref]

Metabolic

Metabolic side effects have included water intoxication resulting in coma and seizures.[Ref]

Hypersensitivity

Hypersensitivity side effects have included anaphylactic reactions.[Ref]

Genitourinary

Genitourinary side effects have included pelvic hematoma. Excessive doses have produced pelvic fracture, uterine hypertonicity, spasm, tetanic contraction and rupture.[Ref]

Hematologic

Hematologic side effects have included postpartum hemorrhage and fatal afibrinogenemia.[Ref]

Hepatic

Hepatic side effects have included neonatal jaundice.[Ref]

Gastrointestinal

Gastrointestinal side effects have included nausea and vomiting.[Ref]

Respiratory

Respiratory side effects have included pulmonary edema.[Ref]

Renal

Renal side effects have included decreases in glomerular filtration rate and renal plasma flow. Doses of 40 milliunits per minute may produce significant decreases in urine output.[Ref]

Local

Local side effects have included nasal irritation and rhinorrhea.[Ref]

Ocular

Ocular side effects have included neonatal retinal hemorrhages.[Ref]

Psychiatric

Psychiatric side effects have included memory impairment and mania in patients on high doses.[Ref]

General

General side effects have include low Apgar scores at 5 minutes. Fetal death has been reported.[Ref]

References

1. Evron S Ariely S Agasi M Eger G Bukovsky I Caspi E "Severe peripheral arteriospasm following oxytocin administration." Am J Obstet Gynecol 155 (1986): 657-8

2. Hendricks CH Brenner WE "Cardiovascular effects of oxytocic drugs used post partum." Am J Obstet Gynecol 108 (1970): 751-60

3. Lazo JS, Sebti SM "Bleomycin." Cancer Chemother Biol Response Modif 15 (1994): 44-50

4. "Product Information. Pitocin (oxytocin)." Pfizer U.S. Pharmaceuticals Group, New York, NY.

5. Plumer MH "Letter: Oxytocin-induced venous spasm?" Anesthesiology 44 (1976): 87-8

6. Dawood MY "Pharmacologic stimulation of uterine contraction." Semin Perinatol 19 (1995): 73-83

7. "Product Information. Syntocinon (oxytocin)." Sandoz Pharmaceuticals Corporation, East Hanover, NJ.

8. Johnstone M "The cardiovascular effects of oxytocic drugs." Br J Anaesth 44 (1972): 826-34

9. Nakano J "Cardiovascular actions of oxytocin." Obstet Gynecol Surv 28 (1973): 75-92

10. Schwartz RH Jones RW "Transplacental hyponatraemia due to oxytocin." Br Med J 1 (1978): 152-3

11. Pedlow PR "Syntocinon induced convulsion." J Obstet Gynaecol Br Commonw 77 (1970): 1113-4

12. Goodlin RC "Oxytocin may explain neonatal seizures" Am J Obstet Gynecol 161 (1989): 259

13. Muller FJ Van Zyl-Smit R "Oxytocin-induced water intoxication. A case report." S Afr Med J 68 (1985): 340-1

14. Mwambingu FT "Water intoxication and oxytocin." Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 290 (1985): 113

15. Jensen I Bruns BJ "Water intoxication after oxytocin-induced midtrimester abortion." N Z Med J 89 (1979): 300-2

16. Ansseau M Legros JJ Mormont C Cerfontaine JL Papart P Geenen V Adam F Franck G "Intranasal oxytocin in obsessive-compulsive disorder." Psychoneuroendocrinology 12 (1987): 231-6

17. D'Souza SW Lieberman B Cadman J Richards B "Oxytocin induction of labour: hyponatraemia and neonatal jaundice." Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 22 (1986): 309-17

18. Slater RM Bowles BJ Pumphrey RS "Anaphylactoid reaction to oxytocin in pregnancy." Anaesthesia 40 (1985): 655-6

19. Morriss WW, Lavies NG, Anderson SK, Southgate HJ "Acute respiratory distress during caesarean section under spinal anaesthesia. A probable case of anaphylactoid reaction to Syntocinon." Anaesthesia 49 (1994): 41-3

20. Maycock EJ, Russell WC "Anaphylactoid reaction to Syntocinon." Anaesth Intensive Care 21 (1993): 211-2

21. Kawarabayashi T Narisawa Y Nakamura K Sugimori H Oda M Taniguchi Y "Anaphylactoid reaction to oxytocin during cesarean section." Gynecol Obstet Invest 25 (1988): 277-9

22. Spears FD, Liu DW "Anaphylactoid reaction to syntocinon?." Anaesthesia 49 (1994): 550-1

23. Taylor RW Taylor M "Misuse of oxytocin in labour" Lancet 1 (1988): 352

24. Wiener JJ Evans AS "Uterine rupture in midtrimester abortion. A complication of gemeprost vaginal pessaries and oxytocin. Case report" Br J Obstet Gynaecol 97 (1990): 1061-2

25. Sweeten KM, Graves WK, Athanassiou A "Spontaneous rupture of the unscarred uterus." Am J Obstet Gynecol 172 (1995): 1851-5;disc. 1855-6

26. Leventhal JM Reid DE "Oxytocin-induced water intoxication with grand mal convulsion." Am J Obstet Gynecol 102 (1968): 310-1

27. Robichaux WH, Perper JA "Massive perinatal hepatic necrosis from maternal oxytocin overdose." Pediatr Pathol 12 (1992): 761-5

28. Connor BH Seaton PG "Birth weight, and use of oxytocin and analgesic agents in labour in relation to neonatal jaundice." Med J Aust 2 (1982): 466-9

29. Dwyer N "Managing the third stage of labour. Nausea is a fair price for preventing haemorrhage." BMJ 308 (1994): 59

30. Munsick RA "Renal hemodynamic effects of oxytocin in antepartal and postpartal women." Am J Obstet Gynecol 108 (1970): 729-39

31. Kennett DJ Devlin MC Ferrier BM "Influence of oxytocin on human memory processes: validation by a control study." Life Sci 31 (1982): 273-5

32. Cordano A Kraus V "Clinical experience with oxytocin." Obstet Gynecol 39 (1972): 247-53

33. Beck LR Flowers CE Jr Blair WD "The effects of oxytocin on fetal scalp temperature." Obstet Gynecol 53 (1979): 200-2

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