This gland is often referred to as the "master gland." It greatly influences other organs in the body, and its function is vital to the overall well-being of a person. The pituitary gland produces several hormones. In fact, the front part of it, commonly called the anterior pituitary, produces the following types of hormones:
- Growth hormone: This hormone promotes growth in childhood. For adults, it helps to maintain healthy muscle and bone mass.
- Prolactin: In women, it stimulates milk production. In males, low levels are linked to sexual problems; however, most males make no use of the hormone.
- Adrenocorticotropic: This hormone promotes the production of cortisol, which helps to reduce stress, maintain healthy blood pressure and more.
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone: Just as the name implies, this hormone helps to regulate the body's thyroid, which is crucial in maintaining a healthy metabolism.
- Luteinizing hormone: In women, this hormone regulates estrogen. In men, it regulates testosterone.
- Follicle-stimulating hormone: Found in both men and women. It stimulates the releasing of eggs in women and helps ensure the normal function of sperm production in men.
The back part of the pituitary gland is called the posterior pituitary. It produces the following two hormones:
- Oxytocin: This hormone causes pregnant women to start having contractions at the appropriate time and also promotes milk flow in nursing mothers.
- Antidiuretic hormone: Commonly referred to as vasopressin, this hormone helps to regulate water balance in the body.
When the pituitary gland doesn't operate in a healthy manner, this can lead to pituitary disorders.