What makes up the endocrine system?

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Glands that produce and secrete hormones make up the endocrine system. These hormones are responsible for your body’s growth, metabolism, and sexual function and development. They are released into the bloodstream and affect the organs in your body.

The glands that make up the endocrine system are the:

  • Hypothalamus,
  • Pituitary,
  • Thyroid,
  • Parathyroids,
  • Adrenals,
  • Pineal gland,
  • Reproductive organs, and
  • Pancreas.


The hypothalamus regulates your hunger, metabolism and body temperature. It can be found in the lower central part of your brain.

The hormones secreted by the hypothalamus stimulate or suppress the release of hormones in the pituitary gland.

It also secretes somatostatin, which is a hormone that causes the pituitary gland to stop the release of growth hormones.

Pituitary gland

The pituitary gland is located at a position below the hypothalamus in the brain. It produces hormones that control many of the other endocrine glands’ functions.

It is possible to divide the pituitary gland can be divided into two lobes: the anterior lobe and the posterior lobe.

The anterior lobe produces hormones that are regulated by the hypothalamus:

  1. Growth hormone, which stimulates bone and tissue growth.
  2. Thyroid-stimulating hormone, which is responsible for stimulating the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormones
  3. Adrenocorticotropin hormone, which stimulates the adrenal gland to produce various steroid hormones
  4. Luteinising hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone, which control sexual function and the production of oestrogen as well as progesterone or testosterone
  5. Prolactin, which stimulates milk production in women

The posterior lobe produces hormones that are not regulated by the hypothalamus. These hormones are produced in the brain and carried to the pituitary gland through nerves.

  1. Antidiuretic hormone, which controls your kidneys’ water loss
  2. Oxytocin, which contracts the uterus when you are giving birth and stimulates milk production

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Thyroid gland

The thyroid gland makes hormones that are responsible for regulating your body’s metabolism. It is situated in the lower front part of your neck. It also contributes to bone growth and the development of the brain as well as the nervous system in children. Thyroid hormones also help maintain blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, muscle tone and some reproductive functions.

Parathyroid glands

The parathyroid glands release hormones that regulate calcium levels in the blood and bone metabolism. It is embedded in the surface of the thyroid gland.

Adrenal glands

The adrenal glands consist of two parts:

  1. The outer part (adrenal cortex), which produces hormones called corticosteroids. These hormones regulate your metabolism, salt and water balance, immune system and sexual function.
  2. The inner part (adrenal medulla) produces hormones called catecholamines. These hormones help you cope with physical and emotional stress by increasing your heart rate and blood pressure.

Pineal gland

The pineal gland produces melatonin. This hormone regulates the body’s sleeping cycle. It is located in the middle portion of the brain.

Reproductive glands

The reproductive glands are the most familiar in the endocrine system. They are responsible for releasing sex hormones.

In men, their testes produce androgens, like testosterone. These hormones are responsible for men’s sexual development, the growth of facial and pubic hair, as well as sperm production.

In women, the ovaries produce oestrogen and progesterone, as well as ova. These hormones are responsible for the development of women’s breasts. They are also involved in women’s reproductive functions, like menstruation and pregnancy.


The pancreas can be divided into two parts:

  1. The exocrine pancreas, which secretes digestive enzymes
  2. The endocrine pancreas, which secretes insulin as well as glucagon. These hormones are responsible for regulating the level of glucose in your blood.

The pancreas is an organ situated at the back of your abdomen, behind your stomach.

Together, the various glands that make up the endocrine system release hormones that allow your body to function as it is supposed to. From reproductive functions to stress control to digestion – your endocrine system regulates it all.

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