Skip to Content

Oxytocin

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

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Apr 24, 2019 – Written by Cerner Multum

What is oxytocin?

Oxytocin is a hormone that is used to induce labor or strengthen uterine contractions, or 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 be treated with oxytocin if you are allergic to it.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • a severe infection in your uterus;

  • a difficult labor because you have a small pelvis;

  • genital herpes;

  • cervical cancer;

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

  • high blood pressure; or

  • heart problems.

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

How is oxytocin given?

Oxytocin is injected into a muscle, or given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

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 oxytocin.

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?

Since oxytocin is used when needed, it does not have a daily dosing schedule.

What happens if I overdose?

Since oxytocin is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, you will be constantly monitored to make sure you are receiving the correct dose.

What should I avoid while receiving oxytocin?

Follow your caregivers' instructions about drinking or restricting fluids. In some cases, drinking too much liquid can be unsafe while you are receiving oxytocin.

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 fast, slow, or uneven heart rate;

  • excessive bleeding long after childbirth;

  • severe headache, blurred vision, pounding in your neck or ears; or

  • confusion, severe weakness, feeling unsteady.

Oxytocin may cause serious or life-threatening side effects in the newborn baby, including:

  • slow heartbeats or other abnormal heart rate;

  • jaundice (a yellow appearance of the baby's skin);

  • a seizure;

  • eye problems; or

  • problems with breathing, muscle tone, and other signs of health.

Talk with your doctor about the risks of using oxytocin. In most cases, the benefits of inducing labor with oxytocin will outweigh the risks to the baby.

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting; 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?

Other drugs may affect oxytocin, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

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.

Hide