What Is The Endocrine System?

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All organisms with highly developed bodily processes have an endocrine system. Examples of such animals are crustaceans and vertebrates.

Anatomy of the Endocrine Systems

The endocrine system has a number of glands that produce the hormones to regulate the several functions of the body. It includes the adrenal glands, pituitary gland, the hypothalamus, and other glands.


The glands that make up the endocrine system are described below.

The hypothalamus – Located centrally at the lower part of the brain, it is responsible for regulating the body temperature and metabolism. It also regulates the production of hormones by the pituitary gland. It also helps to stop the production of the human growth hormone or HGH.

The pituitary gland – It is a very small gland that is located at the bottom of the brain, just below the hypothalamus. It is responsible for producing a lot of important hormones like the HGH and the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Lack of the hormones produced by the pituitary gland causes a medical condition called Hypopituitarism. The gland has two parts, the anterior and posterior lobes. The production of the hormones in the anterior lobe is controlled by the hypothalamus while that in the posterior lobe is not.

The thyroid gland – This is located toward the base of the front of the neck. It produces the thyroid hormone which is responsible for the body’s metabolic activity. In children, it also plays an important part in bone and brain development. It is controlled by the pituitary gland.

The parathyroid glands – These are responsible for maintaining proper calcium levels in the body. They are two gland pairs located on each side of the thyroid gland.

The adrenal glands – These are situated on the top of both the kidneys. The outer part of the adrenal glands, called the adrenal cortex, is responsible for producing hormones to regulate the body’s sexual function, metabolism, and immune system. The inner part, called the adrenal medulla, enables the body to handle stress.

The pineal gland – This one is located centrally in the brain and is responsible for regulating the body’s wake-sleep cycle.

The reproductive glands – These are several glands that produce all the sex hormones. The testes produce testosterone in males, which is responsible for the production of sperm and the other masculine features. The ovaries produce estrogen as well as progesterone and eggs in females, and are also responsible for the feminine characteristics and reproductive functions.

Hormones Related To Endocrine System

The human growth hormone produces bone and tissue growth as well as helps in being emotionally at ease. Lack of it in adults can cause problems in maintaining appropriate amount of bone mass and body fat. The thyroid stimulating hormone controls the production of hormones in the thyroid. The adrenocorticotropic hormone or ACTH controls the adrenal glands. The follicle-stimulating hormone or FSH and the luteinizing hormone or LH control the production of testosterone in males while in females, they control the production of progesterone and estrogen.

The prolactin hormone in females fuels production of milk, while the oxytocin is responsible for uterus contractions during childbirth. The antidiuretic hormone (ADH), sometimes also called vasopressin, is responsible for excretion of fluids from the body through the kidneys. The somatostatin hormone, produced by the hypothalamus, is responsible for stopping the production of the human growth hormone.

The thyroid hormones are responsible for growth, reproductive functions, heart rate, blood pressure, and digestion. The parathyroid hormone maintains adequate levels of calcium in the blood. The corticosteroids maintain proper balance of water and salt in the body as well as controls metabolism. The catecholamines help the body handle emotional as well as physical stress. Sex hormones like estrogen and testosterone are responsible for reproductive fertility as well as sexual characteristics. And finally, the melatonin regulates the wake-sleep cycle.