Test Estrogen Level

Test Estrogen Level: Overview

Estrogens are the hormones responsible for female sexual features such as breast development and the menstrual cycle.  An estrogen test measures the level of the most important estrogens (estradiol, estriol, and estrone), usually through a blood sample.

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In women, estrogens are produced mainly in the ovaries (and the placenta during pregnancy).  Small amounts are also produced by the adrenal glands.  In men, small amounts of estrogens are produced by the adrenal glands and testicles.  Small amounts of estrone are made throughout the body in most tissues, especially fat and muscle.  This is the major source of estrogen in women who have gone through menopause.

Function; Why it is Recommended

Estradiol is the estrogen that is most commonly measured in women who are not pregnant.  The amount of estradiol in a woman's blood varies throughout her menstrual cycle.  After menopause, estradiol production drops to a very low but constant level.

Estriol levels are usually measured during pregnancy to determine the likelihood of the fetus having Down's syndrome or other birth defects.  Estriol can be detected as early as the 9th week of pregnancy, and its levels increase until delivery.  This measurement is often included in a maternal serum "triple" or "quadruple" screening test.

Usually performed at between 16 and 18 weeks, these tests measure the amounts of three or four substances in a pregnant woman's blood.  The triple screen measures alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), beta human chorionic gonadotropin (beta-HCG), and unconjugated estriol (uE3).  The quad screen measures these substances as well as the hormone inhibin-A.  The levels of these substances, along with a woman's age and other factors, help estimate the risk that her child may have certain problems or birth defects.

Estrone may be measured in women who have gone through menopause to determine their estrogen levels.  It may also be measured in men or women (through a urine sample) as part of a total estrogen value when a tumor of the ovaries, testicles, or adrenal glands may be present.

A test for estrogen in the blood is carried out for reasons such as:

  • Help determine whether a woman's reproductive organs are functioning so she can become pregnant.  Because estradiol varies widely during the menstrual cycle, it may be tested only in the third sample of a 3-day series to determine the ovaries' ability to produce eggs.
  • Help determine whether menopause has occurred.  After menopause, the level of estrogens in the blood decreases to a very low level.  This test is sometimes done before hormone replacement therapy is started.  Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels are also commonly measured to determine whether menopause has occurred.
  • Help detect fetal birth defects (especially Down syndrome) during pregnancy.  When the test for estrogens is combined with alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), it is called a triple test.  Other blood tests and fetal ultrasound may be done also.
  • Help detect fetal distress in high-risk pregnancies.
  • Evaluate abnormal sexual development.  In girls or women, these conditions might include early or delayed puberty, excessive menstrual bleeding, or lack of menstrual bleeding (amenorrhea).  Measuring estrogen levels can help evaluate estrogen-producing tumors of the ovaries in girls before menstruation starts and in women after menopause.
  • Explain abnormal sexual characteristics in men, such as enlarged breasts (gynecomastia).  This test can also help detect the presence of estrogen-producing tumors growing in the testicles.
  • Monitor therapy with fertility medications (such as Gonal-F, Follistim, or Repronex).  Estradiol levels may be monitored before and during treatment with medications that are given to stimulate ovulation.  Estradiol levels may also be monitored with assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures.

Instructions

Women who are menstruating should note where they are in their menstrual cycle and give that information to the health professional collecting the blood sample.

Expected Outcome

When it comes to interpreting the results, normal values may vary widely from lab to lab and depend to a large extent on gender, age, menopausal status and pregnancy.  Other factors include women undergoing Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT); hormonal birth control such as pills or patches; having had a test involving radioactive substances within the previous week; the medication clomiphene (Serophene, Clomid); corticosteroids, such as dexamethasone (Decadron); high levels of sugar in the urine caused by diabetes.

High values:

  • Estradiol:

    • Common in women who are having their ovaries stimulated to treat infertility.
    • In a woman can indicate a tumor of the ovaries or adrenal glands.  (These tumors can produce estradiol.)
    • In a man can indicate a tumor of the testicles or adrenal glands.
    • Can indicate serious liver disease (cirrhosis) in both men and women.
  • Estriol:

    • Can be caused by a pregnancy with more than one fetus (such as twins or triplets).
  • High estrogen levels can indicate early (precocious) puberty.

Low values:

  • Estradiol:

    • In women this can indicate reduced function of the ovaries, possibly caused by a failure of an ovary to develop properly (Turner's syndrome) or because of a drop in pituitary gland activity.
    • May be caused by anorexia nervosa.
    • May indicate that menopause has occurred.
  • Estriol:

    • Levels that begin to decrease during pregnancy, or that do not rise, may indicate a problem with the fetus or placenta.

On This Page

Test Estrogen Level:

Test Estrogen Level can help with the following:

Mental

Panic Attacks

There has been research showing an association of panic attacks with decreased levels of estrogen in women.

Reproductive

Not recommended for
Pregnancy-Related Issues

Hormone levels fluctuate at different stages of pregnancy, making it difficult to isolate any underlying imbalances during this time.

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KEY

Moderately useful: often helps with
Moderately useful:
often helps with
Should be avoided: is NOT recommended for
Should be avoided:
is NOT recommended for