How Does the Endocrine System Affect Reproductive Development?
In fact, the job of the endocrine glands is more to interact with the body as a whole and to regulate body-wide functions than it is for the glands to interact with or coordinate any kind of predominant endocrine activity with each other. This is different from the activity of the urinary, nervous, respiratory or circulatory system organs and functions.
An endocrinologist is a medical doctor who specializes in treating endocrine disorders. An endocrine surgeon specializes in the surgical treatment of endocrine diseases and glands. Some of the diseases that are managed by endocrinologists include disorders of the pancreas (diabetes mellitus), disorders of the pituitary (gigantism, acromegaly, and pituitary dwarfism), disorders of the thyroid gland (goiter and Graves’ disease), and disorders of the adrenal glands (Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease).
Many of these hormones are part of regulatory hormonal cascades involving a hypothalamic hormone, one or more pituitary hormones, and one or more target gland hormones. Generally speaking, hormones control the growth, development, and metabolism of the body; the electrolyte composition of bodily fluids; and reproduction. This article provides an overview of the hormone systems involved in those regulatory processes. The article first summarizes some of the basic characteristics of hormone-mediated communication within the body, then reviews the various glands involved in those processes and the major hormones they produce. For more in-depth information on those hormones, the reader should consult endocrinology textbooks (e.g., Constanti et al. 1998; Wilson et al. 1998). Finally, the article presents various endocrine systems in which hormones produced in several organs cooperate to achieve the desired regulatory effects. The discussions focus primarily on the system responses in normal, healthy people ( A, Bartke A, 1998). For information regarding alcohol’s effects on some of the hormone systems, the reader is referred to subsequent articles in this issue of Alcohol Health & Research World.
FSH and LH affect reproductive structures to cause the formation of sperm and the preparation of eggs for release and possible fertilization. In the male, FSH and LH stimulate Sertoli cells and interstitial cells of Leydig in the testes to facilitate sperm production. The Leydig cells produce testosterone, which also is responsible for the secondary sexual characteristics of males. In females, FSH and LH cause estrogen and progesterone to be produced. They regulate the female reproductive system which is divided into the ovarian cycle and the menstrual cycle. Menopause occurs when the ovaries lose their sensitivity to FSH and LH and the female reproductive cycles slow to a stop.
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Wilson JD, Foster DW, Kronenberg HM, Larsen PR, editors. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 9th ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders; 1998.
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