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Cuddle drug is the new Viagra

Lianzi Fields
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Nasal Spray
Image: Thinkstock

A drug used to help mothers bond with their babies has also been discovered to improve men's libidos, and has even being described by a medical expert in the US as having "blockbuster potential".

The hormone oxytocin, known as the 'cuddle drug', was shown to not only have physical effects comparable with that of Viagra, but also emotional effects that helped men strengthen relationship bonds.

Related: Women don't need female viagra, just a chat: study

Oxytocin occurs naturally in both sexes and has been designated as the “hormone of love” because of its association with the creation of a variety of social bonds including sex, relationships, attraction, touches, hugs and trust.

It is also commonly known as the "cuddle chemical" because of the high level of the hormone diffused into a woman's bloodstream during labour, which triggers breast milk production and promotes bonding between a mother and her newborn.

The chemical's effects on men were explored by researchers at the University of California, who discovered that exposure to the chemical was making them more sensitive to other people's feelings and emotions.

The test case for the research involved a married father of three, identified only as Mr B, who was given the drug to sniff in spray form twice a day over a period of several months.

The man had experienced difficulties maintaining social relationships due to his attention deficit disorder, which conventional drugs had not been able to mitigate because they were either unsuitable or had unwanted side-effects.

The findings of the study, which were published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, revealed that after several months of taking oxytocin, the man's sex drive increased from 'very weak' to 'somewhat strong', and that the act of sex itself became easier and more satisfying.

Both the man and his wife also noted that their relationship became more intimate and affectionate. While at work, Mr B, who also suffered from social phobia, had hugged a colleague in a way that was 'very out of character'.

In pics: 10 surprising things that affect your mood.

The man did note that these effects went away as soon as he ceased taking the oxytocin, but that he did not suffer any other unwanted side-effects while taking the drug.

The researchers reported that the sexual improvements of the man were 'in keeping' with the effects of Viagra.

"These findings support trials directly examining the use of oxytocin to treat problems in this vital aspect of human function, especially in the context of stable, loving relationships," they wrote.

The discovery for the new use of oxytocin is welcome news for those times when Viagra does not work, especially for men post-surgery, for whom Viagra can be effective in as little as 10 percent of cases.

Oxytocin-based drugs also have the potential to generate billions of dollars in revenue. Currently Viagra and similar drugs reach sales of approximately $3.8 billion each year worldwide.

Mike Wyllie, a scientist that helped develop Viagra for the US multinational pharmaceutical company Pfizer, said that an oxytocin-based drug could have "blockbuster potential", but also warned that any drug that has emotional as well as physical effects should be closely examined before being approved by medical authorities.

Watch: Female Viagra


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