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All about: Oxytocin

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Some commonly used brand names are:

In the U.S.—

  • Pitocin
  • Syntocinon

In Canada—

  • Syntocinon

Generic name product may be available in the U.S.

Category

  • Antihemorrhagic, postabortion uterine bleeding
  • Antihemorrhagic, postpartum uterine bleeding
  • Diagnostic aid, placental reserve
  • Diagnostic aid, utero-placental insufficiency
  • Lactation stimulant
  • Oxytocic

Description

Oxytocin (ox-i-TOE-sin) is a hormone used to help start or continue labor and to control bleeding after delivery. It is also sometimes used to help milk secretion in breast-feeding.

Oxytocin may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

In general, oxytocin should not be used to start labor unless there are specific medical reasons . Be sure you have discussed this with your doctor before receiving this medicine.

Oxytocin is available only with your doctor's prescription, in the following dosage forms:

  • Nasal
  • Solution (U.S. and Canada)
  • Parenteral
  • Injection (U.S. and Canada)

Before Using This Medicine

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For oxytocin, the following should be considered:

Allergies—Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to oxytocin. Also tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any other substances, such as foods, preservatives, or dyes.

Breast-feeding—Although very small amounts of this medicine pass into breast milk, it has not been reported to cause problems in nursing babies.

Other medicines—Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your health care professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Other medical problems—The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of oxytocin. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Kidney disease

Proper Use of This Medicine

For patients using the nasal spray form of this medicine:

  • This medicine usually comes with directions for use. Read them carefully before using.

Dosing—The dose of oxytocin will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders . The following information includes only the average doses of oxytocin.

  • For nasal dosage form:
    • For increasing milk production in breast feeding:
      • Adults—One spray into one or both nostrils two or three minutes before nursing or pumping milk from breasts.
  • For injection dosage form:
    • For helping to start or continue labor:
      • Adults—At first, 0.5 to 2 milliunits per minute slowly injected into a vein. Then, your doctor may increase the dose every fifteen to sixty minutes as needed.
    • For treating incomplete abortion, causing abortion, or controlling bleeding after an abortion:
      • Adults—10 units injected slowly into a vein.
    • For helping to control bleeding after delivery:
      • Adults—10 units injected into a muscle or slowly into a vein.

Storage—To store this medicine:

  • Keep out of the reach of children.
  • Store away from heat and direct light.
  • Protect the medicine from freezing.
  • Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed. Be sure that any discarded medicine is out of the reach of children.

Precautions While Using This Medicine

Oxytocin nasal spray may not help milk secretion in some breast-feeding women. Call your doctor if this medicine is not working.

Side Effects of This Medicine

Oxytocin can be very useful for helping labor. However, there are certain risks with using it. Oxytocin causes contractions of the uterus. In women who are unusually sensitive to its effects, these contractions may become too strong. In rare cases, this may lead to tearing of the uterus. Also, if contractions are too strong, the supply of blood and oxygen to the fetus may be decreased.

Oxytocin has been reported to cause irregular heartbeat and increase bleeding after delivery in some women. It has also been reported to cause jaundice in some newborn infants.

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention:

Rare (with use of injection)

Confusion; convulsions (seizures); difficulty in breathing; dizziness; fast or irregular heartbeat; headache (continuing or severe); hives; pelvic or abdominal pain (severe); skin rash or itching; vaginal bleeding (increased or continuing); weakness; weight gain (rapid)

Rare (with use of nasal spray)

Convulsions (seizures); mental disturbances; unexpected bleeding or contractions of the uterus

Other side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. However, check with your doctor if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome:

Rare (with use of injection)

Nausea; vomiting

Rare (with use of nasal spray)

Nasal irritation; runny nose; tearing of the eyes

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your doctor.

Additional Information

Once a medicine has been approved for marketing for a certain use, experience may show that it is also useful for other medical problems. Although this use is not included in product labeling, oxytocin is used in certain patients for the following:

  • Testing the ability of the placenta to support a pregnancy

Other than the above information, there is no additional information relating to proper use, precautions, or side effects for this use.

Revised: 06/30/1994

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