The endocrine system contains various glands that secrete hormones to help your body function normally. These glands are responsible for regulating many body functions including growth and metabolism. The hormones produced by the endocrine glands work internally and help control the following processes and systems:
The Endocrine Glands
The endocrine system performs many bodily functions with the help of various glands which are small but significant organs that secrete and store hormones. Following are the endocrine glands:
- Hypothalamus: Hypothalamus is located in the brain and is attached to the pituitary. Its function is to collect information regarding the internal well-being of the body and use this information to secrete hormones produced by the pituitary.
- Pituitary Gland: Often known as the “master gland”, pituitary gland is extremely important because it controls several other hormonal glands. Small in size, it is located in a bony hollow beneath the bottom of the brain and right behind the bridge of your nose. The gland has two parts, each of which functions differently.
- Thyroid Gland: The thyroid gland is located in the front part of the neck, just beside the windpipe. It controls many body functions such as temperature, heart rate and metabolism.
- Parathyroid Gland: Parathyroid glands are four small glands situated near each other (size of rice grain) that produce parathyroid hormone to regulate body’s calcium levels.
- Adrenal Gland: The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys and consist of two parts, the adrenal cortex and the adrenal medulla. These glands are responsible for making hormones that helps us cope with stress.
- Pineal Gland: This tiny little gland, located deep in the center of the brain produces melatonin that helps regulate reproductive hormones and maintain circadian rhythm.
- Ovaries: The ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone (two major female hormones) which maintain the health of the female reproductive system. Ovarian cysts, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), menstrual cycle diseases, ovarian cancer are some of the diseases associated with ovaries.
- Testes: Pair of testes is sperm-producing organ that maintains the health of the male reproductive system. In addition, they produce testosterone hormone which is vital for the development of male physical characteristics. Testosterone ensures libido, bone density and muscle strength in males.
- Thymus Gland: The thymus gland is located between your lungs and produces thymosin hormone which is responsible for the development of disease-fighting T cells. The gland remains active until puberty and by that time it produces all your T cells.
- Pancreas: Pancreas is an important endocrine gland which produces hormones- insulin and glucagon, both responsible for maintaining the body’s blood glucose. The most common disease associated with pancreas is Diabetes Mellitus.
Endocrine glands produce different kinds of hormones that trigger specific response in other organs located throughout the body. The endocrine system is one of our body’s main communicators which like the nervous system, deliver hormones to cells through blood vessels.