Estrogen is the encompassing name of the most important female sex hormones (most common including estradiol, estriol and estrone) that aids in the fertility of women and are produced by the ovaries, adrenal gland, and by the placenta during pregnancy. The production of these hormones begins at puberty when menstruation begins and fluctuates until ceased at menopause.
High levels of estrogen are more commonly seen in females and can be associated with issues such as irregular (excessive) menstruation, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, endometriosis, weight gain secondary to insulin resistance, and fibroids. Low levels of estrogen are seen mostly during menopause, however can be seen during chemotherapy/radiation, hysterectomy, and in some autoimmune diseases. Signs and symptoms of estrogen imbalance include but are not limited to fatigue, hot flashes, memory lapses, low sex drive, thinning or excessive hair, irregular menstruation, acne, mood swings, cramps, and changes in blood pressure. Although levels of estrogens are much higher in females than males, male testes can still produce estrogen at low levels.
High levels of estrogen in men can cause female characteristics such as in the condition gynecomastia, where the male body will actually begin to develop an increased amount of breast tissue. Also included in the issue of high estrogen in males is prostatic hypertrophy, cancer, weight gain, high pitched voice, and low sex drive.
Estradiol (commonly called E2) is the hormone responsible for our female characteristics, bone health, and also aids in sexual functioning for women. An imbalance is estradiol is the leading cause of gynecological issues such as endometriosis, fibroids, and female cancer, and is why it is the most frequently tested estrogen in non-pregnant women.
This pregnancy producing estrogen originates from placenta and can first be detected in the 9th week of pregnancy. Estriol can be measured in a pregnant women’s blood or urine and is used in determining the benchmark of the fetus’ health. Low levels can be an indicator of congenital abnormalities or defect in the developing fetus such as in Downs syndrome.
Estrone is the hormone commonly associated with Estradiol. Although estrone biological responses are less, properties pertaining to this hormone are similar to those of estradiol. Estrone is known as the dreaded menopause hormone, made primarily by body fat, when a woman goes through the menopausal changes and estrogens need checked; this is the one tested. Imbalances in estrone are associated with menopause, adrenal cancer, and sex organ related cancers in both male and females.