Oestradiol is a female steroid hormone, produced in the ovaries of women and to a much lesser extent in the testes of men. It is the strongest of three oestrogens and is responsible for the female reproductive system as well as the growth of breast tissue and bone thickness. In pre-menopausal women, oestradiol levels vary throughout the monthly cycle, peaking at ovulation. In women, oestradiol levels decline with age, culminating with the menopause when the ovaries stop producing eggs. Low oestradiol can cause many symptoms associated with the menopause, including hot flushes, night sweats and mood swings. Low oestradiol can also cause osteoporosis.
What might a low result mean?
Low levels of oestradiol in women can lead to osteoporosis, problems with the menstrual cycle and fertility, as well as fatigue. In women who are peri-menopausal it is common for oestradiol levels to fluctuate from month to month. Declining and low oestradiol can cause many symptoms associated with the menopause such as hot flushes, mood swings, fatigue and headaches. In younger women low estradiol can be caused by excessive exercise, problems with pituitary function and eating disorders (anorexia nervosa).
There is currently little research into the effects of low oestradiol on men, however associations have been found between lower oestradiol levels and increased quantities of body fat, decreased bone strength as well as with some sexual problems. Conventional medicine does not routinely treat men with low levels of oestradiol, although this may change with future research.
What might a high result mean?
Raised oestradiol in women can cause acne, constipation, loss of sex drive and low moods, as well as raising the risk of uterine and breast cancer.
Oestradiol can also be raised in men due to excess fat (which produces oestradiol) or in relation to testosterone levels which have declined with age. Raised oestradiol in men can cause the growth of breast tissue, the loss of libido and infertility. There can be many causes for a high oestradiol including high BMI, alcohol consumption, stress and the use of certain medications (including those aimed at raising testosterone) as well as a number of medical conditions including pituitary and testicular issues.