How to Say It: Hi-po-pi-TUI-tar-ism
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Hypopituitarism is when the pituitary gland does not make enough of one or more hormones. The pituitary gland is at the base of the brain. It makes hormones that affect how other glands in the body make hormones. This means hypopituitarism can cause lower levels of hormones from other glands as well.
The pituitary gland can affect:
Hypopituitarism may be caused by one or more of the following:
Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:
Symptoms often begin slowly. They can be hard to recognize since they affect so many systems in the body. Some changes based on specific hormones are:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may need to see a doctor who treats hormone disorders.
Blood tests may be done to measure levels of hormones made by:
Medicine and hormones may be given. Blood tests will be given before and after they are given. Changes will help to test pituitary function.
An MRI scan of the brain may be done. They can show tumors or abnormal tissue, growth, or shrinkage.
The goal of treatment is to balance hormones. It will likely be needed for life. Some choices are:
There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.
Pituitary Disorders Education and Support
The Pituitary Society
Thyroid Foundation of Canada
Fleseriu M, Hashim IA, Karavitaki N, et.al. Hormonal Replacement in Hypopituitarism in Adults: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Nov;101(11):3888
Higham CE, Johannsson G, Shalet SM. Hypopituitarism. Lancet. 2016 Nov 12;388(10058):2403-15.
Hypopituitarism. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hypopituitarism. Accessed October 26, 2020.
Kim SY. Diagnosis and Treatment of Hypopituitarism. Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2015 Dec;30(4):443.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 5/21/2021