Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.
healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.
- Your pineal gland is a very small gland in the centre of your brain.
- The pineal gland makes a hormone called melatonin.
- Melatonin helps your body control day-night sleep patterns and your internal body clock (circadian rhythms).
- Medical conditions related to the pineal gland aren’t common, but cysts of the pineal gland or pineal gland tumours do sometimes develop.
What is the pineal gland?
The pineal gland is a very small gland found in the centre of your brain. It is shaped like a pinecone, which is where it gets its name.
What does your pineal gland do?
Your pineal gland makes a hormone called melatonin. Melatonin helps your body control:
Melatonin is mostly made when it’s dark (at night). Your melatonin levels change in a daily and seasonal rhythm.
Melatonin also has an impact on your reproductive system and helps to protect your cells from damage.
What medical conditions can affect the pineal gland?
Medical conditions related to the pineal gland aren’t common. However, cysts of the pineal gland or pineal gland tumours do sometimes develop.
Cysts and tumours may cause symptoms such as:
- a change in vision
- problems with eye movements
- nausea and vomiting
- difficulty walking
- problems with balance
- sleeping a lot
- feeling drowsy
Most pineal cysts don’t cause symptoms and are seen on MRI scans that are done for another reason.
If you have a problem with your pineal gland, your doctor will refer you to a specialist for diagnosis and further advice.
FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.
ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.
Resources and support
Hormones Australia has resources and support for people with hormone conditions.
You can also call the healthdirect helpline on 1800 022 222 (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). A registered nurse is available to speak with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.