Estrogen tests are used to detect a deficiency or excess in a woman and to help diagnose a variety of conditions associated with this imbalance. They may also be used to help determine the timing of a woman's ovulation and may be ordered to monitor the health status of the developing baby and placenta during pregnancy. In a man, estrogen testing may be performed to detect a hormone excess and its cause.

Estrogen tests measure one of three components: estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), or estriol (E3). These tests each have different uses.

In Girls and Women

Estradiol (E2) and/or estrone (E1) testing may be ordered to:

  • Help diagnose early-onset puberty, when a young girl develops secondary sex characteristics sooner than expected; or delayed puberty, when a girl shows delayed development of secondary sex characteristics or start of menstruation
  • Investigate menstrual abnormalities, such as lack of menstrual periods (amenorrhea), infertility, and abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Evaluate the function of the ovaries and detect ovarian failure
  • Monitor follicle development in the ovary in the days prior to in vitro fertilization by making serial measurements of estradiol
  • Monitor hormone replacement therapy that is given to assist fertility
  • Monitor menopausal hormone replacement therapy that is given to alleviate symptoms associated with estrogen deficiency
  • Detect estrogen-producing tumors
  • Monitor anti-estrogen therapy, as in breast cancer

Estriol (E3) testing:

  • May sometimes be ordered serially to help monitor a high-risk pregnancy; when it is used this way, each sample should be drawn at the same time each day.
  • An unconjugated estriol test is one of the components of second trimester maternal serum screening. Decreased levels have been associated with various genetic disorders, including Down syndromeneural tube defects, and adrenalabnormalities.

In Boys and Men

Estradiol (E2) and/or estrone (E1) testing in boys or men may be ordered to:

  • Help diagnose delayed puberty
  • Help diagnose the cause of enlarged breasts (gynecomastia) or other signs of feminization
  • Detect a relative estrogen excess that is due to a testosterone or androgen deficiency
  • Detect estrogen-producing tumors