About the Pituitary Gland
The pituitary gland is a small gland located at the base of the brain. It is
sometimes called the master gland, because it secretes hormones that control
the functions of the other endocrine glands.
The function of the pituitary gland is very complex—it affects many parts of the body
with many different hormones. Too much (oversecretion) or too little (undersecretion)
of one or more of those hormones can have a serious effect on a child’s
health. The gland helps control many functions of the body, such
- Blood pressure
- Some aspects of pregnancy
- Production of breast milk
- Function of the reproductive organs
in women and men
- Function of the thyroid gland
- The conversion of food into
- Water balance in the body
The pituitary gland consists of two major sections, each of which produces
Anterior (front) lobe
The anterior lobe of the pituitary gland makes up 80 percent
of the gland's weight. It releases a variety of hormones that affect
growth, physical and sexual development, and other endocrine glands.
The anterior lobe of the pituitary gland produces:
- Growth hormone—stimulates
the long bones to grow during childhood and puberty
and also effects how the body uses nutrients,
such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats
- Thyroid stimulating hormone
(TSH)—causes the thyroid gland to produce
two hormones, which help control your body's
- Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)—causes the adrenal
glands to produce a hormone called cortisol,
which helps your body manage stress
- Prolactin—stimulates breast milk production after a
woman gives birth
- Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)—in
women, it helps control the menstrual cycle and
the production of eggs by the ovaries. In men, FSH
the production of sperm.
- Luteinizing hormone
(LH)—along with FSH, helps regulate the menstrual
cycle in women and causes ovulation to occur
Posterior (back) lobe
The posterior lobe of the pituitary produces:
- Oxytocin—helps contract
the uterus during childbirth
- Antidiuretic hormone
(ADH)—helps the kidneys conserve the right
amount of water.
If a person becomes dehydrated, the pituitary
gland releases more ADH to help the body conserve the water it contains.
of ADH leads to too much excretion of water,
a condition known as diabetes insipidus.
Too much ADH leads to excessive retention of
water by the body, a condition known as syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic
This condition is rare in children.
more about the pituitary gland, select from
the list of topics and resources.
OF THE PITUITARY GLAND
TESTS AND PROCEDURES
FOR PITUITARY GLAND DISORDERS
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Last modified on: 30 June 2015