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What Is The Pituitary Gland?

The pituitary is an important gland in the body. It's often referred to as the 'master gland'. It controls several of the other hormone glands (e.g. testis, adrenals, thyroid).

Where Is The Pituitary Gland?

It is usually about the size of a pea and consists of two parts (often called lobes). A front part called the anterior pituitary and a back part, called the posterior pituitary.

The pituitary gland sits in a bony hollow called the pituitary fossa. This is behind the bridge of the nose and below the base of the brain, close to the optic nerves. It is often considered the most important part of the endocrine system because it produces hormones that control many functions of other endocrine glands.

The Endocrine System

The endocrine system consists of various glands situated in different parts of the body. Each gland produces hormones which regulate the activity of other organs and tissues in the body. These hormones are released directly into the blood through the relevant gland.

Hormones

The anterior pituitary controls the production of several important hormones: 

  • Testosterone
  • Growth hormone
  • Puberty hormones (or gonadotrophins)
  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH, which stimulates the thyroid gland to make Thyroxine)
  • Prolactin and Adrenocorticotrophic Hormone (ACTH, which stimulates the adrenal stress hormone, cortisol).
  • The posterior pituitary makes the fluid balance hormone called anti-diuretic hormone (ADH)