Estrogen Testing: What You Can Do at Home and How They Work
Estrogen plays a major role in women’s health and is one of the primary sex hormones in females. Beyond its main responsibilities of controlling the menstrual cycle and supporting pregnancy, estrogen also has a role in bone formation and managing cholesterol.
Estrogen levels that are out of whack for your particular stage in life can result in both unwanted symptoms and can be dangerous to your health long-term, making it incredibly important to keep the estrogen levels balanced and within healthy ranges.
Whether you are trying to conceive or simply maintaining good health, estrogen is a crucial hormone to track and test. In this post, we will look at how estrogen testing works, which tests you can do at home, and how to interpret the results.
What is estrogen?
Estrogen is the primary sex hormone in women and is responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics. This family of hormones is classified collectively as estrogen and the three main types tested are estrone (E1), estradiol (E2), and estriol (E3)
There are three types of estrogen produced in the female body and each plays a different role in reproductive health.
- Estrone (E1) – The least powerful of the three, this type of estrogen is the only one your body produces after menopause. Estrone is responsible for female sexual development and function.
- Estradiol (E2) – The strongest, and most common in women of childbearing age, estradiol levels are directly related to the maturation and release of an egg, as well as uterus lining development.
- Estriol (E3) – Naturally produced at all times, but highest during pregnancy when production switches to the placenta. Estriol promotes uterus growth and prepares the body for giving birth.
The relationship between Estradiol (E2) and urinary E2 (E3G)
Estrone-3-glucuronide (E3G) is the main metabolite of estradiol in urine and detecting its presence highly correlates with E2 blood levels. Urine hormone tests are measuring E3G or urinary E2 to positively correlate with E2 levels that might be found in the blood. Detecting a rise in E2 through an at home hormone test is done to predict and detect ovulation.
When should you check your estrogen levels?
There are a few different scenarios that might encourage you to have your estrogen levels tested. The most common is symptomatic and should happen if you are experiencing adverse symptoms related to estradiol and estrone.
Issues such as problems with menstrual cycles, infertility, menopausal symptoms, and vaginal bleeding after menopause are all cause to check estrogen levels. Girls who develop sex organs later or earlier than normal may also get their estrogen levels tested. Pregnant women are routinely given an estriol test as part of prenatal screenings, but it is not always necessary.
However, many symptoms of hormonal imbalance can be misleading and attributed to other issues. For example, weight gain may be linked to a hormonal imbalance, or it may be related to other lifestyle factors. Testing can be a handy tool to investigate any symptom that might fall into this category.
Checking specific levels can give you and your doctor insights into your health. If you are experiencing symptoms that indicate your hormone levels might be off, taking a hormone test can help you potentially find the cause of your symptoms and give you more information about your general health.
How to test your estrogen levels
Because hormones and their functions can be so varied, there is no one single test to detect hormonal imbalances and estrogen can be tested in one of three ways:
Each test involves a different level of medical support, and can give different snapshots of information. For instance, a saliva test collected over the course of a month can provide a more accurate picture than a one time blood draw. Other than a small prick at the point of a blood draw, there are no known risks to any of the collection methods, and no special preparations need to be taken before the test.
An estrogen blood test is performed by a health care professional by collecting a small test tube of blood from a vein in your arm. Long accepted as the standard for measuring hormones, blood tests measure the levels of estradiol, estriol, and estrone in the blood.
The types and amounts of estrogen present will vary throughout a woman’s lifetime and menstrual cycle. Your doctor may order an estrone, estradiol, or estriol test depending on why an estrogen level test is being ordered in the first place.
Relatively speaking, saliva tests are the most non-invasive of the collection methods and are accessible to a variety of practitioners. These tests can be done in a clinical setting or with an at-home kit and involve collecting the saliva once or over a period of time to evaluate estrogen levels.
Because they are usually a single point of collection, these tests do not account for individual variations over a day and may not reflect the true picture of what is happening with your hormones.
Despite its ease, saliva testing does come with limitations and there are multiple restrictions in terms of eating, drinking, make-up use, chewing, and tooth brushing that must be observed for best results. In addition to these limitations, saliva can only be used to evaluate steroid hormones, and test results may be affected by the use of other hormones (like birth control or hormone replacement therapy).
Urine tests are usually performed by having you collect all urine passed in a 24-hour period. You will be given a container to collect your sample as well as instructions on how to collect and store them. Urine tests can be helpful for determining how the body is eliminating estrogen and although not standard in clinical settings, this method is commonly used in research studies.
The advantages of urine tests are evident in their ability to evaluate estrogen metabolism. Urine tests offer a peek into liver function since they measure liver metabolites of estrogen.
How to check your estrogen levels at home
If you suspect you have a hormonal imbalance, your first step may be looking for how to test estrogen levels at home. Whether you are working with your healthcare professionals, or are just looking for insight, at-home hormone tests provide a solution for you to monitor your hormones on your own. It’s important to note that at-home tests do not diagnose or prescribe, they simply provide you with results.
The most common type of at-home test is a urine test, where you collect a sample to be analyzed for hormone levels. This classic “pee on a stick” method is used for a variety of reasons from measuring important fertility hormones like follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) to checking your estrogen levels.
Though less common, you can also check your estrogen levels at home via blood or saliva test. Depending on the test you choose, home collection kits may involve additional steps such as mailing the sample back to a lab before receiving the results of your hormone panel.
What do the results mean?
Our hormones are like fingerprints and we all have different levels that may be considered within our normal range. The amount of estrogen measured can also vary greatly depending on your age, time of life, and where you are in your menstrual cycle. This means that the results from estrogen testing will vary from person-to-person and may indicate different things depending on the individual.
The goal of any test is to learn how well your body is working and provide more information to help diagnose diseases or conditions that might not be obvious. Test results could indicate estrogen levels that are too high, too low, or just right.
Test results that reveal low levels could signal health concerns such as ovarian failure, menopause, a failing pregnancy, or even more serious issues like Turner syndrome. High levels of estrogen could indicate estrogen dominance, tumors, liver damage, early puberty, or menstrual issues.
Testing is often the first step in assessing your overall health and identifying ways you can improve your well-being.
How Mira Fertility Plus can help to track you E3G levels
Because women can only conceive a limited number of days per cycle, tracking your fertility hormones helps you identify exactly when your fertile days occur. Detecting a rise in E2, as shown by measuring E3G levels, is done to predict and detect ovulation.
Mira Fertility Plus measures your actual fertility hormone levels (both luteinizing hormone LH and E3G) and gives a more accurate picture of fertility tracking by providing precise hormone measurements from multiple cycles. Tracking your cycle and fertility hormone levels can take the guesswork out of your fertility journey and support you with real-time data.
With clinically proven accuracy, the Mira Analyzer offers highly personalized fertility advice and is a complete solution for reliable, personalized, and comprehensive data if you are trying to get pregnant or tracking your hormones for other reasons.