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.
Normal estrogen results depend upon the sex and age of the person being tested. With women, it also depends upon their menstrual cycle or whether they are pregnant. Reference ranges will vary somewhat between laboratories, both in normal values listed and in units used.
Increased or decreased levels of estrogens are seen in many metabolic conditions. Care must be used in the interpretation of estrone, estradiol, and estriol results because the levels vary on a day-to-day basis and throughout a woman's menstrual cycle.
A health practitioner who is monitoring a woman's hormones will be looking at trends in the levels, rising or lowering over time in conjunction with the menstrual cycle or pregnancy rather than evaluating single values.
Test results are not diagnostic of a specific condition but give the health practitioner information about the potential cause of a person's symptoms or status.