Oxytocin: Side Effects, Uses & Safety | Pitocin Or Syntocinon

Oxytocin: Side Effects, Uses & Safety

Pitocin Or Syntocinon

 oxytocin side effects

What Is Oxytocin?

Oxytocin is a natural hormone, secreted by the pituitary gland of mammals including male and is responsible for contraction of the uterus during childbirth. While Pitocin or Syntocinon are synthetic oxytocin injections use at the time of baby birth when more contraction of uterus is required.

Syntocinon  increases the concentration of calcium inside the muscle cells that control contraction of the uterus. Increased calcium, increases contraction of the uterus.

Oxytocin  is also used to induce labor, control bleeding after childbirth, to induce an abortion, and to strengthen labor contractions during baby birth,. It was approved by USFDA in Nov 80.

Oxytocin Uses 

Usually the Oxytocin uses in the following condition:

  • Abortion or during Incomplete Abortion
  • Hemorrhage Following Delivery of Baby
  • contraction stress test
  • Surgical Procedures to start Labor Process

Oxytocin Side Effects 

Usually this hormone is safe, but few Oxytocin side effects may be seen in some cases or while in excessive use. Pitocin/ Syntocinon side effects include:

  • redness or irritation at the injection site,
  • loss of appetite,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • cramping,
  • stomach pain,
  • more intense or more frequent contractions (this is an expected effect of  syntocinon ),
  • runny nose,
  • sinus pain or irritation, or
  • memory problems.

Besides these some serious side effects of Pitocin are:

  • headache,
  • confusion,
  • fast, slow, or uneven heart rate;
  • severe vomiting,
  • slurred speech,
  • fainting,
  • hallucinations,
  • muscle cramps,
  • severe weakness,
  • seizure (convulsions),
  • loss of coordination,
  • feeling unsteady,
  • shallow breathing or breathing that stops;
  • excessive bleeding long after childbirth; or
  • abnormaly high blood pressure (shortness of breath, severe headache, anxiety, blurred vision, confusion, , uneven heartbeats, buzzing in your ears, chest pain, seizure).

This is the only potential side effects and not the complete list when taking this medication. Call your doctor if others side effects of this medication is seen.

Oxytocin Dosageoxytocin uses

Pitocin is administered under a physician’s/ gynecologist supervision. The initial Pitocin dosage should be 0.5-1 mU/min (equal to 3-6 mL of the dilute oxytocin solution per hour).

The oxytocin dosage should be gradually increased in increments of 1-2 mU/min at intervals of 30-60 minutes until the desired contraction pattern has been achieved.

Maximum Dosage Of Oxytocin

No specific maximum dosage limit recommendations of Pitocin are available.

Dosage of  syntocinon  depend upon the patient’s age, weight, condition of being treated, and the prescribing doctor’s judgment. Therefore, Pitocin dosage may vary and must be carefully administered.

Excessive Use Of Oxytocin

But it has been obsereved that the uses of Pitocin in hospital birth are increasing gradually, whether it is necessary or not.

The unnecessary uses of  oxytocin should be avoided in the health benefit of pregnant mothers and their babies.

Now the question is- Why the doctors use Pitocin or Syntocin?:

  • To Induce Labor:

To induce birth in pregnant women who are at “post-term” (After the term 41 weeks gestation is known as ‘post term’ or ‘Induction’). Generally pregnancy is ‘post term’ at 42 weeks of gestation.

At the point of gestation, if the cervix is not dilated, Pitocin (oxytocin) is used as the current standard of practice in most countries to induce labor.

  • Augmentation:

To speed up labor. The basic reason behind the practice is the clinical guidelines which suggested that women who reach 41 weeks are at high risk of complications like still birth.

The uterine contractions produced by Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin) are different than the contractions produced by natural oxytocin – probably the reason behind Pitocin is administered continuously via Intravenous Infusion whereas natural oxytocin is released directly in pulses.

Oxytocin Administration

Injectable Administration

Administer by intravenous (IV) infusion or intramuscular(IM) injection.

Oxytocin Storage

Oxytocin should be stored at room temperature, 150 C to 250 C (60 F to 77 F).

Oxytocin Contraindications

Tell your doctor about all medications you are using. Pitocin should be used during last term pregnancy only if prescribed.

Pitocin contraindications may happen with drugs used in anesthesia, prochlorperazine injection, or warfarin. Special precaution is recommended during pregnancy and breastfeeding:


The use of Pitocin is strictly prohibited in the first 3 months of pregnancy other than in relation to spontaneous or induced abortion. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding


Syntocinon  often used in mothers having difficulty with engorgement and breast-feeding. Syntocinon is excreted in the breast-milk, but since it is rapidly removed from the body, not expected to be found in the mother’s bloodstream for very long and thus doesn’t have adverse effects in the infant.

Is Oxytocin Safe?

No adverse or life threatening effect has been seen in mothers with Pitocin. Many experts consider breastfeeding is safe when this medicine use only for short-term.

It is advisable that mothers should not nurse for at least one day after stopping  syntocinon. This  injection should not be used during pregnancy unless for inducing labor or abortion.

What preparations of oxytocin-injectable are available?

Injection: 10 units/ml

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