What Hormone Does the Pituitary Gland Secrete?

The pituitary gland or hypophysis is an endocrine gland that is about 0.5 g in humans which protrudes off of the hypothalamus below the brain resting on a bony cavity. It is often called the “master gland” because it secretes hormones that control so many different signals throughout the body and can sense the needs of a variety of other organs and glands. The pituitary gland largely works with the testes, ovaries, adrenal glands and thyroid glands to produce the necessary hormones for these functions.


What Hormones does the Pituitary Gland Secrete?

The actions of the pituitary gland are monitored by your hypothalamus which allows your brain to receive information about the other systems in your body. The pituitary gland can then send a variety of hormones throughout the body to react with other glands and organs as necessary to keep the body in an ideal state of homeostasis.

Hormone Secreted

Main Target


Growth Hormone or GH

Many Different Cells

This hormone is most commonly known in children where it is used to allow them to reach their final height. In adults this hormone is used to control the amount of fat and muscle in the body while promoting the immune system to heal injuries.



This hormone works with other signals to produce breast milk, though it can still be found in women that are not pregnant. The role of this hormone in men is unknown.

Adrenocorticotrophic Hormone or ACTH

Adrenal Glands

This helps to stimulate the production of cortisol that controls the blood glucose, blood pressure and metabolism. This acts as an anti-inflammatory that can react to stresses like fasting or bleeding.

Follicle Stimulating Hormone or FSH

Ovaries or Testes

In women, this hormone encourages the production of an ovum for fertilization and increase oestrogen level. In men it stimulates the production of sperm.

Luteinizing Hormone or LH


In women this hormone will trigger the process of ovulation that will become the egg to be fertilized.


In men this hormone encourages the production of testosterone.

Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone or MSH

Possibly the Brain

It is believed that this hormone influences brain activity. Large amounts of this hormone can cause the skin to darken in color

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH


This hormone encourages the thyroid to produce thyroxine and triiodothyronine that control bodily functions such as the metabolism, heart rate and temperature.

Antidiuretic Hormone or ADH


This hormone reduces the production of urine and promotes the blood pressure.


Uterus and Breasts

This hormone helps the contraction of the womb during delivery and the release of milk during lactation period.

What Can be Wrong with the Pituitary Gland?

1. Alter the Size or Shape

Conditions such as empty sella syndrome can cause the pituitary gland to develop with the wrong size or shape.

2. Secrete Too Much Hormone

Some conditions including prolactinoma, Cushing’s disease or acromegaly can cause your pituitary gland to produce an excessive amount of one particular hormone.

3. Secrete Too Little Hormone

Some conditions including diabetes insipidus, adult growth hormone deficiency or hypopituitarism can cause the pituitary gland to fail to produce an adequate supply of some hormones.

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