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The pituitary is an endocrine (hormone-producing) gland, pea-sized gland, that sits just beneath the base of the brain, behind the bridge of the nose. It sits in the sella turcica (‘Turkish saddle’), a bony hollow in the base of the skull, underneath the brain and behind the bridge of the nose. This makes your pituitary gland pretty important. Specifically, your pituitary gland manufactures eight different types of hormones: thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), luteinising hormone (LH), follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), prolactin, growth hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), antidiuretic hormone (ADH), and oxytocin. Your pituitary gland receives messages from another part of your brain (the hypothalamus), which has itself received messages from the environment or other areas of your body. Your hormones regulate a variety of body functions, such as temperature, urine production, thyroid activity, growth in children, and the production of sex hormones (testosterone in men and estrogen in women). The posterior pituitary gland is actually part of the brain and it secretes hormones directly into the bloodstream under the command of the brain.

The anterior (or front) pituitary produces hormones that affect the breasts, adrenals, thyroid, ovaries and testes, as well as several other hormones. For example, if one of your hormone levels gets too low, your hypothalamus will send a message via hormones to your pituitary gland. The hormones from your pituitary gland then stimulate new hormone production out of the misbehaving gland. For this reason it is often referred to as the ‘master gland’.

The pituitary gland secretes and stores hormones, which it uses to stimulate your other glands. In response, your pituitary gland secretes hormones of its own and sends them through your blood stream like little messengers. If all is going as it should, these hormones reach the gland that had not been producing enough of its own hormones. If a gland is overproducing hormones, then your pituitary gland will send the message to lower hormone production.