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What Are Hormones

What are hormones and what do they do?


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brettd eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Consider how hormone therapy is used with some people, especially postmenopausal women, those who have had hysterectomies and men or women undergoing sex reassignment surgery, where hormones are administered regularly to alleviate undesirable symptoms or to achieve desired physical results.  The birth control pill, as another example, is a low dose hormone that makes the body believe it is already pregnant.

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ophelious eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Hormones are like messengers in your body that give orders to your cells to do particular things.  They are chemicals that are manufactured by glands  and released into the bloodstream, sort of holding a sign up with a type of cell's name on it (like a limo driver at the airport waiting to pick up a client.) Most cells ignore the hormone, but when it comes across the right one its chemical "message" is read and the cell starts to do what it has been told.  This message could be a lot of different things, but generally it is meant to keep the body functioning and in balance.  Too much of a certain hormone can have results such as your gym partner in 8th grade growing a mustache before everybody else or your girlfriend in the 9th grade freaking out on you during "that time of the month."

Here are some things that hormones do for the body.  Remember, though, they are only the "messengers" that start the cells into action.  They go out into the body when told to by a higher power (the gland) and it's the cell that actually does the work.

  • make people grow or stop growing,
  • make people feel happy or sad,
  • speed up or slow down the metabolism,
  • starting puberty,
  • starting menopause,
  • regulating your fighting, mating, and fleeing instincts.

Here is a snazzy picture of the different glands and organs that secrete hormones: click.

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dnogle | Student

     Temperature control, blood pressure, blood sugar, reproduction, electrolyte balance, growth and development, among others are all controlled by hormones. They work throughout our body 24/7 to maintain control. In short, hormones are signals that are produced in endocrine glands, passed through the blood stream and sent to other parts of the body to make the body function as smoothly and effectively as possible. 

sid-sarfraz | Student

Hormones are chemical messengers released by endocrine glands directly in the bloodstream, carrying messages throughout the body to specific organs and tissues telling them to carry on with their functions. Hormones help in various body processes like;

  • Sexual process
  • Reproduction
  • Growth
  • Development
  • Mood swings
  • Regulates healthy metabolism
  • Milk production in lactation
  • Strong bones
  • Maintains water level in body
  • Maintains body temperature
  • Maintains blood pressure
  • Controlling sugar in body
crystaltu001 | Student

We have a lot of hormones in our bodies. They are like messengers in our bodies and it tells our bodies what to do and they are responsible for actions in your bodies like when you start growing and hit puberty . 

parama9000 | Student

There are many hormones that are in our body, responsible for various functions such as the development of secondary sexual characteristics, production of gametes, as well as hormones that influence our emotions.

Such hormones are produced from locations such as the pituitary gland to the pancreas. The links below has more specific information.

jess1999 | Student

Hormones are technically your body's messenger.

Growth Hormone: During childhood this hormones helps you to grow, when you're and adult this hormone helps to maintain healthy bone and muscle mass.

Prolactin: helps women stimulate milk production

Thyroid-stimulating hormone: helps maintain a healthy metabolism

Antidiuretic hormone: helps to regulate water balance in the body

*These are just a few examples there are a lot more hormones in our body

atyourservice | Student

Hormones are basically like the bodies messenger, they are responsible for many actions in the body, such as growing (the growth hormone), when a person goes through puberty and starts getting a deeper voice and more hair it is due to hormones (testosterone for men). They also do things such as let the body maintain homeostasis, the thyroid hormone t3/t4 for example help control the body metabolism rate, and the  ADH hormone helps maintain water balance. 

zumba96 | Student

Hormones are molecules within the endocrine system. To signal events these are released within the body and are chemical messengers.These are possible only because they help you function such as digesting food 

adarshanurag | Student

Hormones are chemical substances which are directly poured into the blood stream by the endocrine glands and have effects on special target organs.


  1. Hormones effect body metabolism and growth.
  2. Hormones like cortisone maintain balance mineral, salt and water.
  3. Hormones like glucose, glycogen and somatostatin maintains blood sugar level.
  4. Adrenaline is a fight/flight hormone and prepares body for action.
  5. Thyroxine and calcitonin maintains basal metabolism, growth and mental development.
  6. Tropic hormones secretion from anterior pituitary effects the secretion of  other endocrine gland.
  7. ADH regulates the amount of water in urine. 


  1. Hormones are chemically active in our body even in the ratio of 1:300000.
  2. Hormones are steroids like testosterone, amino acids like adrenaline and peptides like insulin.
  3. Excess or deficiency of hormones may lead to certain diseases.
  4. They are never retained in our body and are excreted.
  5. Hormones travel through blood streams and act on target organs.
raid1802 | Student

This is about female hormones.

Your body produces two prominent hormones: estrogen and progesterone. Both hormones are manufactured in your ovaries and play important roles in a your reproductive system.


Estrogen is the hormone responsible for the healthy development of your female sexual characteristics such as your breasts, vagina, your menstrual cycle, body shape, and hair growth under the arms and around the pubic region. It also regulates the release of the ovarian eggs and works with progesterone to stop the ovulation cycle during when you get pregnant. Particularly for women, this hormone is necessary in the proper development of the bone and the metabolic processes.


Progesterone, on the other hand is the other hormone that regulates your menstruation. It supports pregnancy and tempers the highly stimulatory effects of estrogen. Progesterone also helps in the development of the embryo produced by your ovaries by providing a source of corticosteroids.


Progesterone improves your bone density and has beneficial influence on your cardiovascular system and cholesterol. Progesterone also increases the metabolic rate of your digestive system. It has anti-inflammatory actions and regulates the your body’s immune response.


These two hormones, along with testosterone and DHEA work together to provide great health for you. Along with the unisex follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), all of these hormones play specific functions in a your reproductive system.

giorgiana1976 | Student

Hormone (greek: ορμόνη - horman, hormanus - put in motion, to wake) is a biochemical substance that transmits information from an organ or tissue to another, is secreted by endocrine glands or other tissues, which stimulates and coordinates the activities of certain organs or whole body.

Unlike the nervous system, where information from the center (brain or spinal cord), namely nerve impulses, propagated by axonal or dendritic extensions, have a speed that takes fractions of seconds, the transmitted information on hormone path are slower, something like in case of adrenaline, when it takes seconds, while to the other hormones, it lasts for days, until the information is reaching the target organ or tissue.

The exception to this rule are tissue hormones (produced by tissues), hormones such as: histamine, serotonin, and prostaglandin, which are produced directly by the parenchyma of the target organ.

Hormones were discovered in the early twentieth century, the term hormone being first used in 1905, by English psychologist Ernest Starling (1866-1927).

Hormones  from animal body are produced also by the endocrine glands: pituitary, epiphysis, thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas, adrenal cortex and islets of Langerhans, gonads or sex glands. The name of endocrine glands is because the hormones produced by glands flow directly into the blood, being transported via blood to target organ.

Hormones produced by plants are called phytohormones (e.g. the have a core consisting of a phenolic and steroid grouping) and like hormones produced by the animal body, they are acting at the distance, being sufficient a very small quantity.

Science that deals with endocrine glands and study of hormones is called endocrinology.

lit24 | Student

'Hormone' comes from the Greek word 'hormon' which means "that which sets in motion."

Hormones are produced by the endocrine glands in the body. These glands are also called 'ductless glands' meaning that the glands directly empty the hormones into the bloodstream.

There are four types of hormones, namely, steroid, lipid, protein and amino acid hormones.

Hormones control the various metabolic activities of the body. They help to provide the proper amount of energy and nutrition your body needs to function. The glands that make up the endocrine system include the thyroid, parathyroid, pancreas, ovaries, testes, adrenal, pituitary and hypothalamus.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Hormone are chemical substances produced within an animal or a plant which act as "chemical messengers" as means of communication among various parts of an organism. They help these parts function in a coordinated way. Hormones control such body activities as growth, development, and reproduction.

First definite evidence of existence of hormones was found in  1902, when British researchers discovered that a chemical substance controlled certain activities involved in digestion.  Since then more than 30 hormones produced by the human body have been identified.

Most hormones in the human body are produced by organs called ductless glands (endocrines).  These include the two adrenal glands, the pituitary gland, the four parathyroid glands, the sex glands, and the thyroid gland.  A few hormones are also produced by endocrine tissue present in organs which not primarily endocrine glands.  These organs include the stomach and pancreas.

Various endocrine glands secrete hormones into the blood, which carries them throughout the body.  When a hormone arrives at its target organ or tissue it causes certain actions to take place.

Hormones may be grouped according to the functions they control.  These functions include the way the body uses food; growth; sex and reproduction; the regulation of the composition of the blood; the reaction of the body to emergencies; and the control of hormones themselves.

Most human hormones can be divided into two groups according to their chemical structure - steroids and amino acid based hormones. Steroids, consists of the sex hormones and the hormones of the adrenal cortex.  Most other human hormones contain some form of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

Chemical structure of a hormone enables it to combine with a receptor in the cells of its target.  The union of the hormone with the receptor triggers a change in the chemical processes of the cell.  This change, in turn, modifies many of the hundreds of chemical activities of the cell, causing the target to behave in a certain way.