Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Glands, such as the pancreas, make up the hormonal system.

Glands, such as the pancreas, make up the hormonal system.
beginning of content

Hormonal system

The hormonal system (called the endocrine system in medical terminology) influences your metabolism, growth and many other functions. In the hormonal system, glands secrete chemicals known as hormones into the bloodstream or surrounding tissue.

What is the hormonal system?

You have a number of glands that secrete hormones, including the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, the pineal gland, the thyroid gland, the parathyroid glands, the adrenal glands, and the pancreas, ovaries and testes.

Each gland makes one or more hormones. Each hormone has specific cells in the body it can influence. Some hormones, such as growth factor, influence almost all the cells in the body. Other hormones influence a small number of cells, such as the anti-diuretic hormone (ADH), which only influences particular cells in the kidney.

How does the hormonal system work?

When a hormone is released from a gland, it travels through the body. It passes by most cells, but eventually reaches its target.

When it reaches its target, it attaches to a particular type of cell, known as a receptor cell. The receptor cell then does something that it is ordered to do by the hormone. That something might be to grow faster, or to release another hormone, or to absorb sugar from the blood, or to withhold water from the kidneys, or one of many other important functions in the body.

In effect, the hormone system is the way in which one part of the body (the gland) tells another part of the body (the target cell) to do something important.

Find out more about the main endocrine glands and their hormones.

Medical conditions related to the hormonal system

The hormonal system can go wrong. Glands might produce too many or too few hormones, or the target cells might stop responding properly to the hormones.

The more common hormonal problems are:

These are usually treated by controlling how much hormone your body makes. An endocrinologist (endocrine gland specialist) can help with appropriate testing and treatment.

Last reviewed: July 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 134 results

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a rare genetic disorder, but it is well understood and treatment is readily available. CAH is also a congenital disorder (present at birth) involving the hormones of the adrenal glands. The word ‘hyperplasia’ means ‘overgrown’. A child with CAH is born with overgrown adrenal glands.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Endocrine System | myVMC

The endocrine system is a group of glands which produce hormones and secrete them directly into the blood stream to regulate hormone levels.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1 (Endocrine Adenomatosis or Wermers syndrome) | myVMC

Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1 is a genetic condition characterised by tumour growth in the endocrine glands. Tumours are typically benign.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Hormonal system (endocrine) - Better Health Channel

Glands, ovaries, pancreas, testicles, deficiencies, risks and management.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Endocrine system and syndromes - Lab Tests Online AU

Site map of article content

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

17-Hydroxyprogesterone - Lab Tests Online AU

The 17-OHP test may be used in a person with symptoms suggestive of CAH to help determine if they have the condition

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Parathyroid glands

Four tiny parathyroid glands are located around the thyroid in the throat. ‘Para’ means ‘near’, which explains the name. These glands are part of the endocrine system, which consists of a range of glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream. The main function of the parathyroid glands is to make the parathyroid hormone (PTH). This chemical regulates the amounts of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium in the bones and blood.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Adrenal Gland Cancer (Adenocarcinoma of the Adrenal Gland, Adrenocorticol Carcinoma) | myVMC

Adenocarcinoma of the adrenal glands or adrenocortical carcinoma is a rare type of malignant cancer affecting a pair of hormone-producing organs.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Chromaffin Tumours (Phaeochromocytoma) | myVMC

Chromaffin tumours or phaeochromocytoma of the adrenal gland affect hormone production. About 10% are cancerous. Treatment involves surgery.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Pituitary Gland Cancer (Carcinoma of the Pituitary gland) | myVMC

Pituitary gland cancer or carcinoma of the pituitary gland is a rare cancer treated with radiotherapy and surgery. It runs in families.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback