The pituitary gland plays an important role in regulating growth, sexual development and the basal metabolic rate, mainly due to the activities of its anterior, because it secretes six hormones that affect the various body parts (see pituitary gland). In disease called hypopituitarism, pituitary gland does not produce one or more hormones. The consequences of the lack of any hormone are extensive and include retarded sexual development or infertility, premature old look, nausea, pallor and general poor health.
The most common causes of hypopituitarism are a serious head injury, pituitary gland tumors or side effects in the treatment of pituitary tumors. Sometimes the disease occurs in women after severe loss of blood in childbirth, but sometimes the cause is unknown.
Hypopituitarism is usually a chronic (long-lasting) disease. It can not be cured, although modern methods can suppress many consequences.
Since the pituitary gland stimulates a work of other endocrine glands (glands that secrete hormones), the symptoms of hypopituitarism are symptoms that occur in several other hormonal disorders, such as hypothyroidism, Addison’s disease, amenorrhea (absence of menstruation), infertility and nanosomia.
If not treated immediately hypopituitarism can be deadly, mainly because adrenal glands, due to this disease, can not react to stress or infection. In rare cases, hypopituitarism may cause hypoglycaemia. The disease is diagnosed by special blood tests (in the hospital). If the diagnosis confirms that this is a hypopituitarism, further tests will be made to see if it was caused by pituitary gland tumor.
A person who has hypopituitarism must be treated for the rest of his/hers life with pills and injections of natural hormones to compensate the lack of the hormones which is causesd by this disease. Thyroxine tablets compensate the hormones that are normally secreted by thyroid gland, and hypothyroidism is treated therewith. Hormones of the adrenal glands are compensated with hydrocortisone tablets, while the men recieve an injections of testosterone if testes do not produce sufficient amount of this sex hormone.
In women, hormonal therapy restores sex drive and menstruation (young women can be treated with estrogen for faster development of breasts). The man or woman who became infertile, and they want to have children, can become fertile if they are given injections of pituitary hormones, which act indirectly – by stimulating the gonads (testes or ovaries).