What Is Pitocin?

A healthcare provider may prescribe Pitocin® (oxytocin) to stimulate or improve uterine contractions in women. But what is Pitocin and when is it used?
Pitocin contains a synthetic version of the oxytocin hormone that is found naturally in the body. It works by attaching to oxytocin receptors on the wall of the uterus, causing the uterus to contract by increasing the calcium concentration in the uterine muscle cells.
This medication can be used for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:
  • Improving contractions when the uterus is not contracting sufficiently during labor
  • Emptying the womb (the uterus) when a woman has a missed miscarriage (when the baby has died in the womb) or for an elective abortion
  • Inducing labor in women for whom this is medically necessary.
A healthcare provider will administer Pitocin either through an intravenous (IV) infusion or as an injection into a muscle (intramuscular injection). Side effects may include nausea, vomiting, and heart rhythm problems.
(Click Pitocin to learn more about what this drug is used for, how it works, and when it is administered.)
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