Oestradiol, a steroid hormone (also known as oestrogen or estrogen), is the strongest of the three naturally produced oestrogens. Oestrogens are responsible for the development of female sex organs and secondary sex characteristics. It is a major female sex hormone but it is present in males, too. Oestrogen has a key role in the female menstrual cycle and is involved in the interplay between follicle stimulating hormone and luteinising hormone.
Because of the role oestrogen plays in the female menstrual cycle, oestradiol levels can be used to evaluate ovarian function. It can also be used to diagnose gynaecomastia in men, enlarged breasts.
Oestradiol is also used to diagnose early puberty, known as precocious puberty (before the age of 8) as well as delayed puberty (after the age of 13 in girls and 14 in boys).
However, the main function of an oestradiol test is to diagnose the cause of the absence of periods (amenorrhoea), usually menopause or pregnancy.
You can test your oestradiol level along with other key fertility hormones by purchasing a simple at-home finger prick test kit which is then analysed at an accredited lab. Forth offers a number of blood tests which include oestradiol such as Female Fertility, Male Hormones, Perimenopause & Menopause Health
Oestradiol is a hormone required in both males and females. In males, oestradiol has a major role in the regulation of sexual function, particularly libido, erectile function and sperm production.
Female oestrogen levels rise naturally during the menstrual cycle. The natural rise causes an egg to mature and be released from an ovary, a process called ovulation. Oestrogen also thickens the uterus lining to allow a fertilised egg to implant itself and develop into a foetus.
Oestradiol is mainly made by the ovaries in premenopausal women with levels being at their highest during ovulation and is at its lowest when a female has her period. As a female increases in age, her oestradiol levels fall slowly with an even larger decrease during the menopause when the ovaries stop working.
During pregnancy, the placenta produces a lot of oestradiol, particularly during the third trimester.
Oestradiol is an important hormone for the growth and development of the female's reproductive system such as the linings of the vagina, fallopian tubes and the endometrium. Some other roles of oestradiol in females include:
The fluctuation in oestrogen levels during the female menstrual cycle means oestrogen levels should be recorded at the right time during the cycle. As oestrogen levels fall naturally as a woman ages, once oestradiol falls below a certain threshold, menopausal symptoms tend to present. The fall in oestrogen is to blame for the vasomotor and psychological symptoms of the menopause, including:
The reduction in oestrogen at the time of the menopause has been linked to the development of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. A natural fall in oestrogen in men can cause osteoporosis in elderly men, too. A fall in oestradiol of less than <5pg/ml has been associated with a 2.5-fold increase in hip and vertebral fractures in older females.
In men, increased levels of oestradiol and decreased levels of testosterone can increase the risk of erectile dysfunction severity. The main symptom is difficulty getting and maintaining an erection. However, erectile dysfunction can have a psychological and emotional impact both individual and on relationships.
If you are worried about your oestradiol levels or just want to check where you fall on the range, you can test your level with a simple at-home blood test.
A major cause of changing oestradiol levels, for females, is the menopause, subsequently causing many of the associated symptoms.
Oestradiol levels naturally fall in males and females as they both get older, leaving both more vulnerable to the development of osteoporosis.
The common symptoms of the menopause are a result of the falling oestrogen levels. The common symptoms of the menopause are:
The falling levels of oestrogen are also associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition where the bones are weakened, making them fragile and more likely to break.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is key before, during and after the menopause, particularly as there are some things which can make the symptoms worse. Some handy tips are:
Diet can also help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin D and calcium are essential for maintaining bone health. Good sources of calcium are:
The skin makes vitamin D after being exposed to the UVB rays of the sun. However, how much vitamin D the body makes and stores depends on the time of day, season, skin pigmentation, age and the country you are in. The three ways to get vitamin D are:
Age affects the skins ability to produce vitamin D and some people are at greater risk of low vitamin D, such as individuals in care homes or those who spend lots of time indoors. Alternatively, there are very few food sources which contain vitamin D such as:
If you are still unable to get enough vitamin D from sun exposure and diet, you may consider supplements. European Guidance for the Diagnosis and Management of Osteoporosis in Postmenopausal Women states women require over 1000 mg/day calcium, 800 IU of vitamin D and 1mg/kg of body weight of protein, all of which should be achieved by consuming a healthy, high in dairy diet.
Exercise is equally beneficial for menopausal women and is also key for improving bone health. The benefits of exercise include:
A hormone check for women who believe they may be starting to transition through the menopause and want to track how fast their body is changing.
This profile analyses key hormones which can not only affect your fertility, but also mood, energy and weight.
For women in various stages of the menopause who want to check hormone levels as well as the impact changes may be having on their overall wellbeing.
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 El-Sakka, A, I. (2013). Impact of the Association Between Elevated Oestradiol and Low Testosterone Levels on Erectile Dysfunction and Severity. Asian Journal of Andrology: 15, pp 492-496.
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