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How Does Oxytocin Work?

Oxytocin works by attaching to oxytocin receptors on the wall of the uterus. The number of these receptors increases during pregnancy, and is highest in early labor. By binding to the receptors, oxytocin increases the calcium concentration in the uterine muscle cells. This causes the uterus to contract. Every woman will respond differently to this drug, depending on how many receptors she has. Therefore, the oxytocin dosage is highly individualized.

When and How This Medication Is Used

Some general considerations to keep in mind during treatment with oxytocin include the following:
  • Oxytocin comes in the form of a liquid that is usually injected slowly into a vein, also known as an intravenous (IV) infusion. It may also be given as an injection into a muscle, also known as an intramuscular (IM) injection.
  • This medicine is normally given by a healthcare provider in a healthcare setting, where you can be monitored closely.
  • Oxytocin should not be used if the medication contains particles or is discolored.
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be used as prescribed.

Dosing Information for Oxytocin

The dose of oxytocin your healthcare provider recommends will vary, depending on a number of factors, such as:
  • The reason you are receiving the medication
  • How you respond to it.
As is always the case, do not adjust your dosage unless your healthcare provider specifically tells you to do so.
(Click Oxytocin Dosage for more information.)
Pregnancy and Pain

Oxytocin Medication Information

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