The endocrine system is composed of 8 types of glands. These glands collectively produce and secrete hormones straight into the circulatory system to influence almost each function of the body. Endocrine glands are present at varied locations within the body and regulate the various functions of the body that occur very slowly such as metabolism, cell growth and puberty.
Located at the base of the brain is the cone-shaped pineal gland. It is responsible for secreting the hormone melatonin that aids in the coordination of the sleep-wake cycle. Known as the master gland, the pituitary gland transmits signals to other endocrine glands to release their respective hormones into the blood stream. The pituitary gland is also responsible for secretion of the growth hormone, maintenance of body fluids and regulating the sensation of pain. Apart from this, the pituitary gland secretes the hormone prolactin which induces lactation in women and oxytocin that triggers uterine contraction during labor. The thyroid gland, found in the neck, produces the hormones thyroxin, triiodothyronine and calcitonin which help in the development of bones, production of heat in the body and stimulation of metabolism. Parathyroid glands which are attached to the thyroid glands in the neck produce hormones that assist in proper utilization of calcium and phosphorus in the body.
Pancreas an abdominal gland secretes the hormone insulin and glucagon, which enable the optimum utilization of sugar by breaking it down into energy. On top of each of the two kidneys are located the two adrenal glands. These glands are responsible for regulating the body’s blood pressure level and maintain the salt and potassium balance as well.
The ovaries are the female reproductive gland that produces the hormone, estrogen and progesterone. These hormones together influence the production of eggs in the ovaries and are responsible for showing the typical female characteristics. The testes represent the male reproductive gland that secretes the hormone testosterone, which further stimulates the production of sperm and is responsible for the development secondary sexual male characteristics.
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