Estrogen is any substance, natural or artificial, which induces estrogenic activity. Estradiol is the most potent form of estrogen produced by the body. Derived from cholesterol, it is produced by fat cells, arterial walls, adrenal glands, brain tissue and the ovaries. A blood estradiol test can generally assesses the function of the ovaries. Estradiol levels peak twice during the menstrual cycle--before and after ovulation. Although estrogen production by the ovaries ends at menopause, other sources continue to manufacture the hormone. In males, the testes produce small amounts of estradiol.
According to KidsHealth.org, the onset of puberty in girls younger than seven is considered abnormal. High estrogen levels can confirm precocious puberty when a little girl exhibits breast growth, pubic hair and menstruation. Besides emotional stress, physical complications of early puberty include short stature due to premature ending of growth before the child has reached her normal adult height.
During pregnancy, high levels of estrogen and progesterone are produced by the placenta. Estrogen promotes the development of milk ducts in the breast. High levels of estrogen are also thought to be a contributing cause of nausea and vomiting, commonly known as morning sickness, in the first trimester.
Ovarian or Testicular Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 1 percent of all ovarian cancers are Stromal cell tumors. These malignancies originate in connective tissues that bind the ovary and produce sex hormones. Symptoms include abnormal vaginal bleeding due to high estrogen levels, most often in post-menopausal women.
In males, breast enlargement and loss of libido could be indications of a rare type of testicular cancer known as Leydig cell tumors, some of which are estrogen-producing. Signs of malignancy include a lump in the testes that may be painful but is more often painless, and a persistent ache in the lower abdomen or scrotum. The American Cancer Society reports that three out of four men with testicular cancer have no symptoms before being diagnosed following a routine check-up.
Men with Klinefelter syndrome have lower levels of male hormones and higher levels of estrogen. Klinefelter syndrome is a condition present at birth that affects about one in 500 to 1,000 men, according to Drugs.com. Normally, men have a single X and single Y chromosome. In Klinefelter syndrome, men have more than one X chromosome. Symptoms of the disorder include sterility, having small testicles, a high voice and a thin beard.
- Kids Health: Blood Test Estradiol
- "Varney's Midwifery"; Helen Varney, C.N.M.; 2003
- American Cancer Society: What is Ovarian Cancer?
- American Cancer Society: How is Testicular Cancer Diagnosed?
- Drugs.com: Klinefelter Syndrome Medical Information