Anatomy of the Endocrine System
The endocrine system is a complex
network of glands and organs. It uses hormones to control and coordinate your body's
metabolism, energy level, reproduction, growth and development, and response to injury,
stress, and mood. The following are key parts of the endocrine system:
Hypothalamus. The hypothalamus
is located at the base of the brain. It makes hormones that control hormones released
in the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus controls water balance, sleep, temperature,
appetite, mood and reproductive behaviors, and blood pressure.
Pineal gland. This gland is
located in the middle of the brain. It makes the hormone melatonin. This hormone
helps your body know when it's time to sleep. This hormone also regulates the timing
of other functions throughout the body, such as when puberty starts.
Pituitary gland. This gland is
located below the brain. It is often as small as a pea. But it controls many
functions of the other endocrine glands.
Thyroid and parathyroid. These
glands are located in front of the neck, below the voice box (larynx). The thyroid
plays a key role in the body's metabolism. The parathyroid helps regulate the body's
calcium balance and bone strength.
Adrenal gland. An adrenal
gland is located on top of each kidney. Like many glands, these work together with
the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. The adrenal glands make and release
corticosteroid hormones and adrenaline (epinephrine). These maintain blood pressure
and regulate metabolism.
Pancreas. This organ is located
across the back of the belly (abdomen), behind the stomach. It plays a role in
digestion and hormone production. Hormones made by the pancreas include insulin and
glucagon. These regulate blood sugar levels.
Ovaries. A woman's ovaries are
located on both sides of the uterus, below the opening of the fallopian tubes. The
ovaries contain the egg cells needed for reproduction. They also make estrogen and
Testes. A man's testes are
located in a pouch that hangs suspended outside the male body. The testes make
testosterone and sperm.