Estradiol is a sex hormone secreted by the follicular system of the ovaries and the placenta in women, by testicles in men, as well as by the adrenal cortex and adipose tissue involving aromataze enzyme in persons of both sexes. You can encounter the incorrect traditional idea of sex hormones, according to which there are only “male” (androgens) or only “female” (estrogens, and progesterone) ones. All sex hormones are representatives of one hormonal class of steroid hormones, which are synthesized from a single biochemical precursor (7-dihydrocholesterol), have a common hormonal “progenitor” (progesterone), and are synthesized according to an almost identical pattern, both in men and women. In the body of both men and women, a natural synthesis of all sex steroid hormones (progesterone, androgens, estrogens) that are essential for a quality life in all periods occurs.
As with high and low testosterone, some people have hormonal disorders that are manifested by elevated or decreased levels of estradiol.
Normal estradiol levels in women, men, and children
In non-pregnant women, the concentration of estradiol in the blood is regulated by luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones. The concentration of estradiol in the female body correlates with the degree of maturing of the follicle. So, the hormone level gradually increases before ovulation, reaches the maximum values in the middle of the cycle, and gradually decreases in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, reaching a minimum at the onset of menstruation. Daily fluctuations in the level of estradiol in the blood are associated with the rhythm of the production of luteinizing hormone. The maximum values are between 3 pm and 6 pm, and the minimum ones are between midnight and 2 am.
In women of reproductive age, normal estradiol levels depend on the phase of the menstrual cycle: in the follicular phase, it is 19.5-144 pg/mL (picograms per millilitre), in the middle of the menstrual cycle, it is 64-356.7 pg/mL; in the luteal phase, it is 37-280 pg/mL. In post-menopause, an indicator not exceeding 32.2 pg/mL is considered normal. Estradiol levels in men aged over 18 should not exceed 56 pg/mL.
Normal values of estradiol in children are as follows:
- up to age 15 days – less than 32 pg/mL in boys and up to 36 pg/mL in girls;
- from 15 days to 10 years – up to 21 pg/mL in boys and up to 36 pg/mL in girls;
- from 10 to 18 years – up to 7-18 pg/mL in boys, in girls – not more than 350 pg/mL, according to Medscape (depending on the Tanner stage or the phase of the menstrual cycle).
Low estradiol levels in women and men
Low estradiol levels in women are always observed during or after menopause. In this case, this is a natural process, when the amount of estrogens goes down and remains at a very low level.
In women of reproductive age, lowering of estradiol may be associated with the following diseases:
1. Hypogonadism – malfunctions of the female genital organs and mammary glands, as a result of which they atrophy. The cause of the disease can be genetic pathology, ovarian hypoplasia, radiation, inflammatory processes, pituitary or hypothalamic tumor, etc.
2. Pituitary dwarfism, or human growth hormone deficiency – disease characterized by a delay in linear growth (dwarfism) and physical development, which was triggered by poor pituitary work and mild hormone production.
3. Luteal phase defect – decrease in the production of progesterone by the yellow body.
4. Viral syndrome – the appearance in women of secondary sexual characteristics due to excessive amounts of androgens and atrophy of female genital organs. It is often a consequence of a tumor of the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, adrenal gland, ovaries;
5. Turner syndrome – a genetic disease, provoked by a disorder in the structure of the X-chromosome, which is accompanied by pathologies in the development of internal organs and low growth;
6. Inflammatory processes of internal genital organs, etc.
Among the symptoms that indicate that the level of estradiol is below normal, and which should be paid attention to in order to start treatment timely, the following ones are determined:
- irregular cycle: frequent delays or too early onset of menstruation;
- pain during menstruation and premenstrual syndrome;
- excessive dryness and burning sensation in the vagina;
- decreased sexual desire;
- decline in strength, impotence, fatigue;
- arterial pressure fluctuations, migraines;
- a sharp decrease in body weight;
If the level of estradiol is lowered in a male person, he has problems with bones, blood vessels and prostate. Also, this condition affects the state of the potency and male genital function.
You might be interested in how to boost testosterone levels naturally.
High estradiol levels in women
Elevated estradiol in women can be caused by the following conditions: endometriosis; persistence of the follicle; follicular cyst of ovaries; hormone-producing neoplasms of the ovaries and uterus, thyroid gland diseases; cirrhosis of the liver; overweight. Signs of increased estradiol in women include: menstrual irregularities; bleeding during menopause; hair loss; acne; convulsions. With increased estradiol, people of both sexes are characterized by: obesity by the female type (fat deposits on the chest, hips); swelling of the face and/or extremities; disorders of the gastrointestinal tract; rapid fatigability; irritability; increased sweating; headache; sleep disorders; cooling of the upper and lower limbs, regardless of the temperature. Elevated estradiol levels in women cause uterine bleeding and related anemia, malignant neoplasms of the ovaries, infertility.
High estradiol levels in men
The causes of high estradiol levels in people of both sexes are:
- liver cirrhosis;
- thyroid gland diseases;
- excess body weight (due to enhanced aromatization of peripheral androgens);
- taking a number of medications (oral contraceptives, which include estrogens, anabolic steroids, such as testosterone enanthate and oxandrolone, etc.).
In addition, the cause of elevated estradiol in men may be estrogen-producing testicular tumors.
In addition to the above symptoms of elevated estradiol in men, such as obesity by female type; swelling of the face and / or extremities; disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, this condition in men is manifested by gynecomastia, disorders of the sexual sphere.
The effects of elevated estradiol in men include erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, obesity, chronic cardiovascular diseases, gynecomastia, prostate tumors (benign hyperplasia or cancer), depression.
Men with elevated estradiol should keep to a special diet, which features the restricted amount of carbohydrates, increased protein content, taking foods rich in omega-3-unsaturated fatty acids.
It is important: if you suspect that you have problems with the level of estradiol, do not self-medicate, as you can only do harm to your health. Consult a doctor to get appropriate treatment.