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Testing estrogen levels is useful for women with menopausal symptoms, fertility issues, or conditions like PCOS, as it helps in managing these issues. It’s also important for individuals undergoing hormone therapy, including transgender individuals and breast cancer patients, to monitor treatment effects. Additionally, postmenopausal women concerned about osteoporosis may benefit from such testing, as estrogen impacts bone density.
Free and total estrogen are two measures of estrogen levels in the body. Total estrogen accounts for all estrogen, including both the estrogen that is freely circulating and the estrogen bound to proteins. Free estrogen, however, only includes the estrogen that is not bound to proteins and is available for the body to use. While total estrogen gives an overall picture, free estrogen is often more relevant for assessing certain health conditions, as it represents the active portion that the body can utilize.
In the human body, three main types of estrogen each serve distinct roles. Estradiol, produced by the ovaries, is the most potent and prevalent in childbearing women, essential for reproductive health and bone maintenance. Estriol, important during pregnancy, is produced by the placenta and is the least potent. Postmenopausal women primarily have estrone, produced by the adrenal glands and fat tissues, playing a key role in estrogenic activity after menopause. These estrogens regulate functions like reproductive health and bone density, with their balance shifting during life stages like puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
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