An estradiol test measures the amount of estradiol present in the blood. Estradiol is the most important of several types of estrogen present in women. As a class, estrogens are the sex hormones responsible for female sexual development and the advent of physical characteristics associated with the female body such as breast development and fat deposit patterns that are so different between men and women. Estradiol can be produced in several areas of the body, but in women, it is produced primarily in the ovaries and plays a major role in sexual and reproductive functions.
Testing Women for Estradiol
Estradiol levels can vary significantly throughout the month in a non-pregnant, premenopausal woman. The level of estradiol present in the blood of such women is linked to the menstrual cycle. Estradiol is still present in post-menopausal women but exists at a much lower level.
In addition to playing both primary and secondary sex hormone roles, estradiol can also have a profound effect on bone growth and bone health. Insufficient estradiol in young women who are still growing often results in short stature. Insufficient estradiol after menopause can directly contribute to bone loss in the form of osteoporosis.
Further, estrogens as a class have beneficial effect on the vascular system. They have been found to improve arterial blood flow in individuals whose total estrogen levels formerly were too low. An estradiol test provides a specific measure that may need to be increased through medication to help protect heart health.
Often, it is not clear where a woman is in her menopausal journey. Bone density tests can give an indication of diminished estradiol in the blood but cannot be specific. An estradiol test can provide a specific measure of the estradiol levels in the blood. If it is found to be very low, the womans physician can prescribe hormone replacement therapy that helps to reverse some of the adverse effects of estradiol levels that have decreased.
Testing Girls for Estradiol Levels
If puberty appears to be very early or very late, a physician may want a clear view of estradiol levels to determine whether treatment is necessary for a young girl. As estradiol plays such an important role in sexual development and function, monitoring it in the early years can help with the diagnosis of diseases or other conditions negatively affecting sex hormone balance.
Estradiol levels at unexpected levels in girls can point to ovaries that are not functioning as they should. This type of information can help in evaluating and treating menstrual problems such as irregular periods or abnormal bleeding.
Estradiol Test Uses
Estradiol levels increase throughout pregnancy, so monitoring estradiol can help to monitor the progress of a pregnancy. The estradiol test can be helpful for young girls in the process of their reproductive development. It is far more common for menopausal women, however, as it can indicate the stage a woman is at in menopause, and whether or not she can benefit from hormone replacement therapy.
Used in conjunction with the Basic Health Screening
or Health Check- Female Level 1
, the estradiol test can assist in building a more complete picture of the state of a womans general and reproductive health.