What Does the Pituitary Gland Do?

pituitary-gland Credit: BSIP/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

The pituitary gland releases hormones needed by other parts of the body. It helps other organs and glands such as the thyroid perform necessary functions.

The pituitary gland is located at the base of the skull, attached to the hypothalamus, a portion of the brain that controls the pituitary and other glands. The pituitary gland is about the size of a pea. It secretes several different hormones that are essential to body functions including metabolism and reproduction. It also plays an important role in growth and development.

Some of the hormones released by the pituitary gland are prolactin and oxytocin. Prolactin is necessary for milk production and oxytocin causes uterine contractions that are essential for childbirth. The hormones released by the pituitary gland also stimulate the thyroid and adrenal glands as well as the ovaries and testes.