The pituitary gland is sometimes called the “master” gland of the endocrine system. This is because it controls the functions of many of the other endocrine glands. The pituitary gland is no larger than a pea. It is located at the base of the brain. The gland is attached to the part of the brain called the hypothalamus by nerve fibers and blood vessels. The pituitary gland itself has 2 lobes:
Functions of the pituitary gland
Each lobe of the pituitary gland makes certain hormones.
GH (growth hormone), which influences growth during childhood and helps keep muscles and bones healthy in adults
Prolactin, which stimulates milk production in the female breast. It’s role in men is uncertain.
ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), which regulates the adrenal glands
TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), which regulates the thyroid gland
FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), which regulates the ovaries and testes
LH (luteinizing hormone), which regulates the ovaries or testes
Antidiuretic hormone (ADH). This is actually made in the hypothalamus and stored in the pituitary gland. It controls water and sodium balance in the body.
Oxytocin. This helps the uterus to contract during labor and childbirth and stimulates the release of milk during breastfeeding. Oxytocin also may play a role in bonding and trust, especially between parents and children.
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