Endocrine, week 3

It’s the “hump” week of the block and just that much closer to final exams. The stress levels that I had been predicting for weeks is in full effect. Study times in the common labs for anatomy and histology have become a bit of gong show, with frenzied students running about, trying to cram as much as they can into their little brains. The Endocrine material isn’t helping matters, this isn’t to say that it is hard, but rather that the material covered in this block is a lot to get as we approach finals. The study of endocrinology in general amazes me. It is fascinating how small chemical messages sent from the brain in the form of hormones exact such large effects overall in the body. It is hard to convey this sense of amazement or fascination through this blog, but let me just say that the inner nerd is enjoying himself.

This week we are covering the hypothalamus, pituitary and end organ axis (axes looked wrong but then what is the plural of axis?). Essentially, we are studying how a tiny area in the brain called the pituitary sends chemical messengers, known as hormones, to specific organs to cause a series of specific events. For example, the case this weeks covers a young man who has lost his sex drive. One of the differential diagnoses is that there is a problem with the pituitary which isn’t secreting enough Lueteinizing hormone (LH) or Follicle Stimulating hormone (FSH). The LH and FSH in term work on the testis to produce testosterone and spermatozoa. It’s been simplified but that is essentially the gist of one of the hypothalamic/pituitary/end organ axis.

The only downside to this week are the lectures on sex. The professor is passionate about her work, without a doubt, but learning about sex in medicine is about as dry as it comes. Somehow the fun is sucked right out of it and you’re left with this very mechanical process. This is, for some reason, very … uh … disappointing. Ah well, c’est la vie.

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