The Endocrine System

The endocrine system works in rhythm with the nervous system. The nervous system sends electrical messages to direct the body, while the endocrine system sends chemical messages. Endocrine glands secrete hormones into the bloodstream to keep the body in balance. Hormones from these glands are involved in your growth and development and are key to your reproductive process. Hormones are responsible for the production and nourishment of newborns, and also help the body deal with demands such as infection or stress.

Endocrine glands and organs containing endocrine tissues include the following:

  • Pituitary gland: Secretes many hormones including those that control reproductive functions.

  • Pineal gland: Produces the hormone that influences sleep patterns.

  • Thyroid gland: Regulates metabolism, growth, and development, and the nervous system.

  • Parathyroid glands: Help regulate the levels of calcium and other elements in the blood.

  • Thymus gland: Helps produce cells that fight infection.

  • Suprarenal (adrenal) glands: Secrete many hormones, including those that help the body deal with stress.

  • Pancreas: Produces hormones that regulate blood sugar and help with digestion.

  • Ovaries: Produce female sex hormones.

  • Testes: Produce male sex hormones.

The other type of gland in the body is the exocrine gland. Exocrine glands have ducts that transport the products of these glands into the body or onto the surface of the body. The exocrine glands are sweat glands, tear ducts, oil glands, digestive glands, and mucus glands.

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