When you’re feeling particularly moody or emotional one day? While some hormones can certainly make you feel out of sorts, your hormones do a lot more good than bad! Turns out, many people blame hormones when they aren’t entirely sure where they come from or what they do. So, what are hormones, and what is the endocrine system?
What Is the Endocrine System?
The endocrine system is the network of glands that are responsible for producing and dispersing hormones. Your endocrine system is responsible for regulating some pretty important bodily functions including body temperature, metabolism, body growth and sexual development.
The endocrine system is made up of primary and secondary organs. The primary organs include the pancreas, hypothalamus and the pituitary, thyroid, pineal, and parathyroid and adrenal glands. The secondary organs include the kidneys, heart, gonads, and thymus.
What Are Hormones?
Hormones are essentially chemical messengers. Hormones are secreted by the endocrine system and travel through your bloodstream. These hormones only stick to cells that have receptors for them, which explains why certain hormones only affect certain systems. Once received, the hormones affect the behavior of the cells. If one type of hormone binds to enough cells, it will cause a change in body and organ function.
How Do Hormones Get Released?
Like most bodily functions, it all starts in the brain. Located in your brain are the hypothalamus and the pituitary glands, which are the command centers of your endocrine system. The hypothalamus receives signals from other parts of the brain and translates them into endocrine language: hormones (which then travel to the pituitary gland). Once these signals are set in motion, other signals decide whether to inhibit or release certain hormones. Some of these hormones will act directly, affecting muscular development or starting processes such as birth and nurturing. Others will send signals indirectly to secondary organs.
What Do Hormones Do?
Well, a lot. As we mentioned above, your hormones are essential to many different bodily functions and changes. Your hormones play a huge part in everything from puberty and childbearing to feeling sleepy or happy. They can make you gain or lose weight, trigger the “fight-or-flight” response, and regulate ovulation and menstruation. The list of functions affected by hormones is almost endless.
The health of your hormone-producing glands can have a huge impact on your life. For instance, if a part of your endocrine system isn’t working, you can expect to see a significant impact in your life. Symptoms will vary depending on which organs or glands are affected.