The pituitary gland lies at the base of the brain just below the hypothalamus, to which it is connected by a stalk containing nerve fibres and blood vessels. This gland consists of two separate lobes, known as the anterior and posterior pituitary glands, each with distinct and separate functions.
The posterior pituitary is really an outgrowth of the hypothalamus. It produces the two hormones oxytocin and anti-diuretic hormone. The anterior pituitary is sometimes known as the body’s ‘master endocrine gland’ because it produces six different hormones which control many body functions. These are growth hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, prolactin, follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone. (See Hormones for their effects).