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At birth, mom and baby are bonded by the brain chemical oxytocin. Most mammal mothers' brains secrete oxytocin when giving birth. Oxytocin causes mom and infant to feel bonded to each other and perform all the nursing, feeding and protecting behaviors for survival.
When most mammals are sexually mature, oxytocin kicks-in again. It makes males and females attracted to each other for the purpose of producing offspring. It has been called "the love hormone". Research on mammals has found that oxytocin is abundant in both males and females that bond for life.
When boys and girls reach the age of puberty, there is a surge of hormones that make major changes in their bodies and behavior. The process is both complex and powerful, as most parents of teenagers will agree!
In women, oxytocin is related to romantic love and long-term bonding and mating. In men, oxytocin is related more to sexual performance. Some research showed that administering oxytocin to men increased sperm count and competitiveness.
After the mating and breeding years are over, most mammals have another big change in hormones. In humans, this change is called "menopause". Women usually experience more dramatic changes than men at menopause.
At menopause, both physical and emotional changes often occur that change how men and women view and live their life. Mostly, life slows down. Many people devote their remaining life energies to helping raise the grandchildren or doing the things they missed out on earlier.
Men in menopause often loose much of their testosterone hormone because it converts to estradiol, that is primarily a hormone in women. This makes men less aggressive and more sensitive. Older men are often embarrassed because they weep during tender, sensitive and moving movies or TV scenes.
Women normally outlive males by several years. Girls born in 2012 can expect to live to age 81.2 years, almost five years longer than boys born at the same time.
Heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women, but men are more likely to develop it. Women, on the other hand, typically develop heart disease ten years later than men because they are protected from it until menopause by their natural production of estrogen, and that helps keep their arteries strong and flexible.
One is that from the evolutionary standpoint, men are less important than females to the overall expansion of the human population. This has been called the "grandmother effect". Presumedly, women's longer lifespan has an evolutionary advantage in helping the grandchildren to reach adulthood more safely. Mature and experienced grandmothers can help the younger less experienced mothers with child rearing and survival.
Efforts to increase production and profits have resulted in unnatural hormones put in many of our foods. For example, some beef are injected with growth hormones to cause a 20 percent increase in their growth and profit. Some farm-raised fish and chickens are also infused with growth hormones for increased production and profit. Some pure food advocates feel these hormones are the cause of an obesity problem in our country. More than two-thirds of U.S. adults are considered to be overweight or obese.
Additionally, some feel these hormones in our food may be contributing to cancer and other health problems. A 2009 study found that children who consumed the most protein from animal sources entered puberty about seven months earlier than those who consumed the least. Also partly to blame may be pesticides, flame-retardants, plastics, and other chemicals in the environment that can disrupt hormones.
© Copyright 2015 by Lawrence Rodrigues, M.S., Director: EastWest Institute for Self-Understanding
All rights reserved worldwide.