What are they?
Pituitary disorders are characterized by an excess or a deficiency in one or more of the hormones produced by the pituitary gland and/or by the symptoms caused by the compression of surrounding tissues when a pituitary tumour is present. The pituitary is a pea-sized gland that lies under the brain. It is attached to an area at the base of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland are part of the hormone or endocrine system. The hypothalamus communicates with the rest of the brain and nervous system. It senses the body’s need for more or less of a particular hormone and controls the amount of hormone released from the pituitary.
The pituitary consists of a front (anterior) and back (posterior) portion. In the anterior pituitary, growth hormone (GH), adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), luteinising hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and prolactin are produced. These hormones help regulate bone growth, muscle mass, the body’s response to stress, blood sugar, the rate at which the body uses energy (metabolic rate), the development of sexual characteristics that develop at puberty, fertility, and milk production. They affect particular “target” tissues throughout the body, including the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, ovaries (women), and testes (men). In the posterior pituitary, oxytocin and antidiuretic hormone (ADH), produced in the hypothalamus, are stored for release. ADH controls the amount of water that the kidneys excrete, which in turn helps regulate the balance of water in the body. Oxytocin stimulates the contraction of the uterus during and after childbirth and is responsible for stimulating the release of milk during breastfeeding.