Eating Disorders Can Cause Issues with the Pituitary Gland

Eating disorders have the highest fatality rate of all psychological disorders. The reason for this is that the effects of starvation and malnutrition a domino-like effect on the body.

One example of this domino effect is that eating disorders can affect the pituitary gland. This single gland secretes hormones that affect hundreds of processes in the body, including the stimulation of other major glands to release hormones.

What Is the Pituitary Gland?

Glands are organs that produce bodily chemicals that regulate and perform all of our bodily functions. These chemicals help keep things in our bodies balanced and chugging along.

One major gland of the body's endocrine system is the pituitary. It's situated at the base of your brain. It's only the size of a pea, but the job it does is tremendous.

What Does the Pituitary Gland Do

The hormones that your pituitary gland secretes helps to regulate growth, body structure, and regulate the metabolism in general. Some of these hormones control your blood pressure and oversee fluid retention.

The pituitary gland plays a significant role in the reproductive system. It produces and regulates hormones that cause women to menstruate, produce, and release eggs, and it regulates the menstrual cycle and release of estrogen. In males, it secretes hormones that produce sperm. In pregnancy, it secretes hormones that regulate childbirth, as well as lactation.

The pituitary also regulates the thyroid gland, which is another major gland that produces hormones with essential functions.

The pituitary is responsible for hundreds of different things in your body, so when it is malfunctioning, it can wreak havoc on a body.

What Are Some Signs of An Underactive Pituitary Gland

People suffering from malnutrition may suffer from an underactive pituitary gland. This puts people with eating disorders at risk. Some signs that you may have hypopituitarism (slow pituitary gland) depends on which hormones have slowed down in production.

For many women suffering from eating disorders, an underactive pituitary may disrupt the menstrual cycle. It's not uncommon for women with eating disorders to have irregular cycles, or to miss several periods in a row.

For both men and women, a slow pituitary gland may cause sexual dysfunctions.

In children, essential growth hormones may be depleted so that the child won't reach optimum size.

If you suspect you may have hypopituitarism, a doctor can check your hormone levels with blood tests. The condition is treatable, and, if caught early enough, it may be reversible.

Sources: Healthline

Photo: Pixabay

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