Hormones are chemical messengers. They travel through the blood, passing signals to organs and tissues. For the most part, hormones work slowly, affecting growth and development, mood, sexual function, and metabolism. Hormone levels can spike and fall, which leads to a variety of health, emotional, and other problems. Some hormones are linked to personality traits and behaviors, while others signal specific reactions that keep the body functioning normally.
Various glands and organs within the endocrine system produce hormones, including the hypothalamus, pineal, and pituitary glands in the brain, the thyroid and parathyroid in the neck, as well as the pancreas, adrenal glands, testes, and ovaries. The thymus is also part of the endocrine system. It is located behind the breast bone and helps establish a healthy immune system in fetal development and childhood. Although it grows rapidly during fetal development, growth slows down after birth until puberty, when it begins to shrink.
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