Pituitary Disorders

Overview

The pituitary gland is a tiny organ, the size of a pea, found at the base of the brain. As the master gland of the body, it produces and secretes many hormones that travel throughout the body, directing certain processes stimulating other glands to produce different hormones. The pituitary gland controls biochemical processes important to our well-being.

The pituitary gland makes these hormones:
  • Prolactin - Prolactin stimulates milk production from the breasts after childbirth to enable nursing. It also affects sex hormone levels from ovaries in women and from testes in men.
  • Growth Hormone (GH) - GH stimulates growth in childhood and is important for maintaining a healthy body composition and well-being in adults. In adults it is important for maintaining muscle mass as well as bone mass. It also affects fat distribution in the body.
  • Adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) - ACTH stimulates the production of cortisol by the adrenal glands. Cortisol, a so-called "stress hormone" is vital to our survival. It helps to maintain blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
  • Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH) - TSH stimulates the thyroid gland, which regulates the body's metabolism, energy, growth, and nervous system activity. This hormone is also vital to our survival.
  • Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH) - ADH, also called vasopressin, regulates water balance. If this hormone is not released properly, it can lead to too little hormone (called diabetes insipidus), or too little hormone (called syndrome of inappropriate ADH). Both of these conditions affect the kidneys. Diabetes insipidus is different from the more well-known diabetes mellitus, which affects the levels of glucose in our bodies.
  • Luteinizing Hormone (LH) - LH regulates testosterone in men and estrogen in women.
  • Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) - FSH promotes sperm production in men and stimulates the ovaries to enable ovulation in women. LH and FSH work together to cause normal function of the ovaries and testes.

Pituitary Tumors

The most frequent cause of pituitary disorders is pituitary tumors. The pituitary gland is made of several cell types. Sometimes these cells grow too much or produce small growths.

These growths are called pituitary tumors, and they are fairly common in adults. These are not brain tumors and are not a form of cancer. In fact, cancerous tumors of this sort are extremely rare. Pituitary tumors, however, can interfere with the normal formation and release of hormones.*

*Courtesy of The Hormone Foundation

For more information go to: http://www.hormone.org/Pituitary/index.cfm

More Links

Pituitary Disorders Education and Support
Pituitary Network Association

We are not responsible for the contents provided in the links.  If you have questions about the content of these links, please contact the organization directly.