The pituitary gland is a small pea-shaped organ that can be located at the base of the brain between the optic nerves. It is connected the rest of the brain via the hypothalamus. It secretes nine different hormones that assist in many bodily functions. The pituitary gland has a number of different functions. Continue reading to find out more.
What does the pituitary gland do?
The main function of the pituitary gland is to secrete hormones that cause certain bodily functions to occur. The pituitary gland acts as two parts despite the fact that it is one gland. The Anterior (front) pituitary, also known as the adenohypophysis, is responsible for the creation and secretion of 7 different hormones, each with their own function. The Anterior Pituitary Gland creates and secretes:
- Growth hormones: these cause the body to grow and change.
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone: regulates the thyroid function.
- Adrenocorticotropic hormone: helps regulate cholesterol levels within the body.
- Prolactin: stimulates the mammary glands to produce breast milk and plays a role in sexual drive,
- Luteinizing hormone: triggers ovulation in females and is responsible for the production of testosterone in males.
- Follicle-stimulating hormone: regulates the development and growth. It also initiates and regulates puberty, and reproductive processes of the human body such as pregnancy and sperm production.
- Melanocyte-stimulating hormones: stimulate the production of melanin in the skin and hair. Melanocyte-stimulating hormones also have an effect on appetite and sexual arousal.
The posterior (back) pituitary gland is responsible for the storage and secretion of two hormones which are oxytocin and antidiuretic hormone. Oxytocin is the hormone that is released to stimulate uterine contractions during labor and the menstrual cycle. It also plays an important role in breastfeeding and wound healing. Antidiuretic hormone is responsible for regulating the amount of water retained by the body. It also regulates blood pressure and vascular constriction.