An estradiol test is used to get an accurate measure of the most common type of estrogen in the body. It is important for women to have proper estradiol levels, because this hormone plays a vital role in the creation and functioning of the vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes. Female growth and fat distribution are also effected by estradiol levels. A doctor or nurse might refer to an estradiol test as an E2 test.
There are a variety of reasons why a doctor may order an estradiol test. An unexplained, absent menstrual cycle or the suspicion of an ovarian tumor are two common reasons. Women who suffer from endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome might need regular estrogen testing, because both of these conditions can alter a woman's estrogen level. Regular estradiol tests might also be given frequently throughout a high-risk pregnancy.
Administrating an estradiol test is a rather standard procedure. A healthcare professional will clean the inside of the elbow and wrap an elastic band around the arm. The nurse or technician will then insert the needle into the vein to get the needed blood sample. This should feel like a mere prick to the patient and should not hurt more than any other blood test. When the administrator is finished, he or she will apply a cotton ball and an adhesive bandage to the needle injection site.
When abnormal test results come back, it can help a doctor get one step closer to diagnosing the underlying cause of a woman's health problems. Low estradiol levels can indicate Turner syndrome, a genetic abnormality in which a woman does not have the standard pair of X chromosomes. Infants and children who have Turner syndrome might also have wide necks or swollen extremities. Adult women with this condition might be short in stature, might experience excessive vaginal dryness and might have fertility issues.
Low estradiol levels also can be found in women who have ovaries that are not functioning at full capacity. A woman who wants to get pregnant and is having ovarian issues might need to undergo ovarian therapy or fertility treatments. The estradiol level of a woman in this situation will likely need to be continually monitored while she is trying to conceive and during her pregnancy.
High levels of estradiol can mean that there is an ovarian tumor present or that a person has cirrhosis of the liver. Further testing will need to be done for a doctor to make a definite diagnosis of either of these issues. Elevated estradiol levels also are sometimes found in women who have overactive thyroids.