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Our hormones play a big part in how we feel and behave throughout the day. Hormones also affect important bodily functions.

What other functions do our hormones regulate? Find out in this lesson on the endocrine system!

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Defining the Endocrine System

Teenagers aren’t the only ones with hormones. And hormones don’t just cause mood swings.

The pancreas produces the insulin, a hormone that helps regulate your blood sugar
Pancreas Insulin Conversion Illustration

The hormones of your endocrine system help to regulate your energy levels, growth, emotions and ability to reproduce.

Hormone-producing glands make up your endocrine system. Hormones are chemicals that your body produces to tell your cells how to behave. They can regulate growth and energy consumption.Your thyroid gland is in your neck. Your thyroid regulates your metabolism, or how fast your body uses energy. Low levels of thyroid hormones may make you feel tired and lead to weight gain. But, if you have a hyperactive thyroid, your heart may race and you may feel jittery and have trouble falling asleep.

Your pancreas is a gland in your belly that also affects your energy levels. Your thyroid controls the rate at which your body uses energy, and your pancreas regulates how much energy your body gets. Your pancreas produces insulin, the hormone that helps your body absorb sugar in your bloodstream to give it energy.

You feel sluggish in the morning when you have low blood sugar. Once you eat breakfast, sugar from the food is carried by your blood. Insulin from your pancreas helps your cells take in the sugar that fuels your body.

Function of the adrenal glands
Adrenal Glands Definition Slide

In your belly, you also have adrenal glands, which rest on top of your kidneys.

Your adrenal glands pump out adrenaline hormones when you’re faced with stress or excited. Say you’re driving, and suddenly see a baby in the road. Your nervous system sends signals to the glands in your endocrine system to put your reactions in motion. Your adrenal glands in your endocrine system release adrenaline to trigger a reaction. You get scared and react quickly as you slam on the brakes. You laugh when you realize it was just a doll that someone lost!

Male and Female Glands

Difficulties with any of these glands can lead not just to health problems, but also to long-term changes in behavior.

They can affect moods and the choices we make.Male and female sex glands are also part of the endocrine system. If you’re a guy, your testes produce the male sex hormones testosterone.

If you’re a girl, your ovaries produce the female sex hormones estrogen. Changing hormone levels are responsible for the physical and emotional changes that occur when you hit puberty.

Functions of the pituitary gland
Pituitary Gland Definition Slide

The pituitary gland in your brain is called the ‘master gland’ because it secretes hormones that trigger your other glands. It regulates the amount of hormones released by your thyroid, adrenal glands, and sex glands.

It’s the command center that controls your body’s growth, and signals your ovaries or testes to make testosterone or estrogen.

Lesson Summary

You’ve learned about the hormone-secreting glands that make up your endocrine system. Major glands include the pituitary gland in your brain, the thyroid gland in your neck, the adrenal glands and pancreas in your belly, and your reproductive glands (your testes or ovaries).

Hormones affect your behavior and bodily functions in many ways. Think of your hormones at work the next time you feel grumpy from low blood sugar levels or after recovering from a sudden scare;BOO!

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