Pituitary or pituitary gland: what it is and what it is used for

Pituitary or pituitary gland: what it is and what it is used for
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A multitude of processes and changes take place in our body every day, many of which are regulated by hormones. Hormone-producing glands are therefore extremely important and must be healthy to function well. L'pituitary gland it is considered the main gland. Let's find out why?

In this article

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Pituitary: what is it

L'pituitary gland o pituitary gland it is a very small anatomical structure with enormous biological importance. It is referred to as the "main gland" of the body because it controls the activity of most of the others hormone-secreting glands.

Pituitary: where is it located?

La pituitary gland it is a small gland found in the saddle Turkish ("turkish saddle"), a bony cavity at the base of the skull, under the brain and behind the bridge of the nose. The pituitary gland has two main parts, the anterior pituitary gland and the posterior pituitary gland. The gland is attached to part of the brain (the hypothalamus) which controls its business. The anterior pituitary gland is connected to the brain by short blood vessels. The posterior pituitary gland is actually part of the brain and secretes hormones directly into the bloodstream under the command of the brain.

Read also: Female infertility, when the problem is the thyroid

Pituitary gland function

The pituitary gland is called "main gland"because the hormones it produces control so many different processes in the body. It detects the body's needs and sends signals to different organs and glands throughout the body to regulate their function and maintain an appropriate environment.

Pituitary gland what it is for

Despite dimensions similar to a bean and a practically negligible weight (just over half a gram), the pituitary gland controls the functionality of numerous organs firsthand, including thyroid, cortical portion of the adrenal glands and gonads (ovaries and testes). Furthermore, the pituitary gland participates in the regulation of water metabolism, milk secretion and body growth.

Pituitary: what are its functions?

The pituitary gland secretes a variety of hormones into the bloodstream which act as messengers to transmit information from the pituitary gland to distant cells, regulating their activity. For example, the pituitary gland produces prolactin, which acts on the breasts to induce milk production.

The pituitary gland also secretes hormones that act on the adrenals, thyroid, ovaries, and testes, which in turn produce other hormones. Through the secretion of its hormones, the pituitary gland check it out:

  • metabolism
  • growth
  • sexual maturation
  • reproduction
  • blood pressure

and many other vital physical functions and processes

Anterior pituitary gland

In the anterior pituitary, very important hormones are produced such as:

  • adrenocorticotropic hormone
  • luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone
  • prolactin,
  • thyroid stimulating hormone.

What hormones does the pituitary gland produce?

La anterior pituitary gland, as mentioned, it produces the following hormones and releases them into the bloodstream:

  • adrenocorticotropic hormone, which stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete steroid hormones, mainly cortisol
  • growth hormone, which regulates growth, metabolism and body composition
  • luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone, also known as gonadotropins. They act on the ovaries or testes to stimulate the production of sex hormones and the maturity of eggs and sperm
  • prolactin, which stimulates milk production
  • thyroid-stimulating hormone, which stimulates the thyroid gland to secrete thyroid hormones

Each of these hormones is produced by a separate type of cell within the pituitary gland, with the exception of follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, which are produced together by the same cell.

Two hormones are produced by the hypothalamus and then stored in the posterior pituitary gland before being secreted into the bloodstream. These are:

  • antidiuretic hormone (also called vasopressin), which controls water balance and blood pressure
  • oxytocin, which stimulates uterine contractions during labor and milk secretion during breastfeeding

Between the anterior pituitary and the posterior pituitary is the intermediate pituitary gland. The cells here produce:

  • melanocyte stimulating hormone, which acts on skin cells to stimulate the production of melanin
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Pituitary gland tumor

One type of cell can divide and then form a small benign lump, known as a tumor, and the patient may then suffer from the effects of an excessive amount of hormone that the cell produces. If the tumor grows very large, even if still benign, it can crush surrounding cells and prevent them from functioning (hypopituitarism), or push up and interfere with vision - a visual field defect. Very occasionally, the tumor can expand laterally and cause double vision as it affects the nerves that control eye movements. It should be emphasized that even when these tumors are large, they very rarely spread to other parts of the body.

What happens if the pituitary does not function properly?

The pituitary gland is an important gland in the body, and the hormones it produces perform various tasks and regulate the function of many other organs. This means that The symptoms that occur when the pituitary gland stops functioning properly can be different, depending on the hormone involved.

Conditions that directly affect the pituitary gland can be divided into three main categories:

  1. Conditions that cause the pituitary gland to produce too much of one or more hormones. Examples include acromegaly, Cushing's disease, and prolactinoma.
  2. Conditions that cause the pituitary gland to produce too little of one or more hormones. Examples include adult-onset growth hormone deficiency, diabetes insipidus, and hypopituitarism.
  3. Conditions that alter the size and / or shape of the pituitary gland. Examples include empty sella syndrome.

Source for this article: 

You and your hormones: Pituitary gland

Read also: At what stage is a woman's fertility? The ovarian reserve says so

Questions and answers

Do thyroid problems affect fertility?

Thyroid disease can impair fertility and be an obstacle to pregnancy. With proper evaluation, these alterations can be significantly reduced.

What does hypothalamic-pituitary insufficiency involve?

Women with this condition have no menstrual flow (amenorrhea) and have low levels of gonadotropins (hormones such as FHS or LH, produced by the pituitary) and estrogen. The levels of prolactin are instead normal.

  • pregnancy hormones
  • hormonal changes
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