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Generic Name: oxytocin (OX i TOE sin)
Brand Name: Pitocin, Syntocinon

Medically reviewed by on Oct 13, 2017 – Written by Cerner Multum

What is oxytocin?

Oxytocin is a natural hormone that causes the uterus to contract.

Oxytocin is used to induce labor or strengthen labor contractions during childbirth, and to control bleeding after childbirth. Oxytocin is also used to stimulate uterine contractions in a woman with an incomplete or threatened miscarriage.

Oxytocin may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Before you receive oxytocin, tell your doctor about all your medical conditions or allergies, and all the medicines you are using.

Before taking this medicine

You should not receive oxytocin if you have ever had an allergic reaction to oxytocin.

To make sure oxytocin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • genital herpes;

  • diabetes;

  • high blood pressure;

  • a heart rhythm disorder;

  • cervical cancer;

  • a severe infection in your uterus;

  • five or more pregnancies;

  • a difficult labor because you have a small pelvis;

  • surgery on your cervix or uterus (including a prior C-section); or

  • if you are less than 37 weeks pregnant.

Also tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How is oxytocin given?

Oxytocin is injected into a vein through an IV. You will receive this injection in a hospital setting.

Your contractions and other vital signs will be watched closely while you are receiving oxytocin. This will help your doctor determine how long to treat you with this medication.

During labor, your baby's heart rate will also be watched with a fetal heart monitor to evaluate any effects of oxytocin on the baby.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Because you will receive oxytocin in a clinical setting, you are not likely to miss a dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Since this medication is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid after receiving oxytocin?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Oxytocin side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Tell your caregivers at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • a fast, slow, or uneven heart rate;

  • excessive bleeding long after childbirth;

  • low levels of sodium in the body--headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady; or

  • increased blood pressure--severe headache, blurred vision, pounding in your neck or ears, anxiety, nosebleed.

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting;

  • runny nose, sinus pain or irritation;

  • memory problems; or

  • more intense or more frequent contractions (this is an expected effect of oxytocin).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect oxytocin?

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with oxytocin, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.