Generic Name: oxytocin (OX i TOE sin)
Brand Name: Pitocin, Syntocinon
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.
What is the most important information I should know about oxytocin?
Before you receive oxytocin, tell your doctor about all your medical conditions or allergies, and all the medicines you are using.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving oxytocin?
You should not receive this medicine if you have ever had an allergic reaction to oxytocin.
To make sure oxytocin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
high blood pressure;
a heart rhythm disorder;
a history of cervical cancer;
a history of severe infection in your uterus;
a history of difficult labor because you have a small pelvis;
if you have ever had surgery on your cervix or uterus (including a prior C-section);
if your pregnancy is less than 37 weeks; or
if you have had 5 or more pregnancies.
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:
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
dangerously high blood pressure--severe headache, blurred vision, pounding in your neck or ears, nosebleed, anxiety, confusion, severe chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats.
Common side effects may include:
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.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Oxytocin dosing information
Usual Adult Dose for Labor Induction:
Initial dose: 0.5 to 1 milliunits IV infusion per hour. At 30 to 60 minute intervals the dose should be gradually increased in increments of 1 to 2 milliunits until the desired contraction pattern has been established.
Usual Adult Dose for Postpartum Bleeding:
10 to 40 units IV infusion in 1000 mL at a rate sufficient to control bleeding.
10 units IM after delivery of placenta.
Usual Adult Dose for Abortion:
After suction or sharp curettage for an incomplete, inevitable or elective abortion:
10 units in 500 mL IV infusion. Adjust rate to assist uterus in contraction.
After intra-amniotic injection for midtrimester elective abortion:
10 to 20 milliunits per minute IV infusion. The total dose should not exceed 30 units in a 12 hour period due to the risk of water intoxication.
What other drugs will affect oxytocin?
Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:
cough or cold medicine that contains a decongestant (pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine);
medicines that contain caffeine, such as migraine headache medicine; or
stimulant medications such as drugs to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), including Adderall, Concerta, Daytrana, Ritalin, Strattera, and others.
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.
More about oxytocin
- Other brands: Pitocin
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about oxytocin.
- 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.
- Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 3.01.
Date modified: November 30, 2016
Last reviewed: June 17, 2015