Estrogen progesterone tests

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Abstract

Measuring blood levels of the major sex hormones—estrogen and progesterone in women and testosterone in men—can aid in the evaluation of a variety of conditions, including fertility problems and certain cancers with sex-hormone-producing tumors. Because abnormal levels of sex hormones are sometimes associated with dysfunction elsewhere in the endocrine system—primarily the pituitary and adrenal glands—this test may be performed in conjunction with other hormone tests.

Estrogen/Progesterone Tests

 Estrogen—predominantly in the form estradiol—is produced by the ovaries in response to signals from the pituitary gland, starting at puberty. The primary function of estradiol is to modulate the course of the menstrual cycle: Its secretion gradually increases over the first 2 weeks, reaches its peak during ovulation, and drops sharply right before the menstrual period. (Another form of estrogen, estriol, is the major estrogen produced during pregnancy.) After the menopause, estrogen levels drop to a consistently low level. 

Progesterone, another female hormone produced by the ovaries, causes the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to thicken and develop in preparation for a fertilized egg. Levels begin to rise rapidly after ovulation; if egg implantation fails to occur, progesterone (and estrogen) levels drop sharply and menstruation occurs about 2 days later. In pregnant women, the placenta releases large amounts of progesterone to maintain the pregnancy. 

http://www.healthcommunities.com/fertility-pregnancy-tests/sex-hormone-tests.shtml#sthash.OSqoRqUA.dpuf

Purpose of the Sex Hormone Tests

Estrogen:

  • To evaluate menopausal status
  • To aid in the diagnosis of tumors that are known to secrete estrogen, such as certain ovarian tumors
  • To evaluate infertility or menstrual problems such as amenorrhea (loss of menstrual periods)
  • To monitor fetal health in pregnant women
  • To aid in the evaluation of feminization (the development of female characteristics such as enlarged breasts) in men
  • To evaluate sexual maturity

Progesterone:

  • To aid in confirming ovulation and evaluate ovarian function in infertility studies
  • To monitor placental health during high-risk pregnancies

Testosterone:

  • To evaluate male infertility or sexual dysfunction
  • To help determine the cause of hypogonadism (decreased testosterone secretion)
  • To aid in the evaluation of virilization (the development of male characteristics such as male-type baldness) in women

Who Performs It

  • A nurse or technician will draw the blood sample.

Special Concerns

  • In men, testosterone levels vary slightly with the time of day—highest around 7 AM and lowest at 8 PM. The timing of blood sample collection must be carefully scheduled to coincide with or avoid times of peak secretion.

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Estrogen Tests

  • Estrogen and progesterone tests may be repeated at specific times to coincide with different phases of the menstrual cycle.
  • A recent nuclear scan may affect the results of estrogen and progesterone blood tests, since these hormones are often measured with a laboratory technique that utilizes a radioactive isotope (radioimmunoassay).
  • A variety of medications—particularly hormone replacement therapies—can alter levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone and interfere with the results.

Before the Sex Hormone Tests

  • Inform your doctor about any medications, herbs, or supplements you are taking. You may be asked to discontinue certain agents before the test.
  • Tell your doctor if you’ve recently undergone a nuclear scan.

What You Experience

  • A sample of your blood is drawn from a vein, usually in your arm, and sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Risks and Complications

  • Bruising of the skin and dizziness can occur.

After the Sex Hormone Tests

  • Immediately after blood is drawn, pressure is applied (with cotton or gauze) to the puncture site.
  • You may resume any medications withheld before the test.
  • Blood may collect and clot under the skin (hematoma) at the puncture site; this is harmless and will resolve on its own. For a large hematoma that causes swelling and discomfort, apply ice initially; after 24 hours, use warm, moist compresses to help dissolve the clotted blood.

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Progesterone Tests

Results

  • The blood sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis. Your doctor will consider the results in the context of your age, your symptoms and physical exam, and the results of other tests.
  • Abnormally high estrogen levels can occur with estrogen-producing tumors or severe liver disease such as cirrhosis. Low levels may indicate ovarian failure, pituitary dysfunction, or menopause. In men, elevated estrogen levels may result from testicular tumors.
  • Elevated progesterone levels are associated with ovulation, pregnancy, ovarian cysts, certain adrenal gland disorders, or progesterone-producing tumors. Low levels may indicate dysfunction of the ovaries or pituitary gland or problems with a pregnancy.
  • Abnormally high testosterone levels are associated with benign and malignant adrenal gland tumors and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland). Low levels may result from pituitary gland dysfunction, testicular or prostate cancer, orchiectomy (removal of the testes), estrogen therapy, or cirrhosis of the liver. In women, elevated testosterone levels may be caused by ovarian or adrenal tumors or polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Depending on the suspected problem, additional tests are likely to be necessary in order to establish a diagnosis.
  • If a definitive diagnosis can be made, appropriate treatment will be initiated.

http://www.healthcommunities.com/fertility-pregnancy-tests/sex-hormone-tests.shtml#sthash.OSqoRqUA.dpuf

Estrogens

An estrogen test measures the level of the most important estrogenhormones (estradiol, estriol, and estrone) in a blood or urine sample.

  • Estradiol is the most commonly measured type of estrogen for nonpregnant women. The amount of estradiol in a woman’s blood varies throughout her menstrual cycle. After menopause, estradiol production drops to a very low but constant level.
  • Estriol levels usually are only measured during pregnancy. Estriol is produced in large amounts by the placenta, the tissue that links the fetus to the mother. It can be detected as early as the 9th week of pregnancy, and its levels increase until delivery. Estriol can also be measured in urine.
  • Estrone may be measured in women who have gone through menopause to determine their estrogen levels. It also may be measured in men or women who might have cancer of the ovaries, testicles, or adrenal glands .

Both men and women produce estrogen hormones. Estrogens are responsible for female sexual development and function, such as breast development and the menstrual cycle. In women, estrogens are produced mainly in the ovaries and in the placenta during pregnancy. Small amounts are also produced by the adrenal glands. In men, small amounts of estrogens are produced by the adrenal glands and testicles. Small amounts of estrone are made throughout the body in most tissues, especially fat and muscle. This is the major source of estrogen in women who have gone through menopause.

For pregnant women, the level of estriol in the blood is used in amaternal serum triple or quadruple screening test. Generally done between 15 and 20 weeks, these tests check the levels of three or four substances in a pregnant woman’s blood. The triple screen checks alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and a type of estrogen (unconjugated estriol, or uE3). The quad screen checks these substances and the level of the hormone inhibin A. The levels of these substances—along with a woman’s age and other factors—help the doctor estimate the chance that the baby may have certain problems or birth defects.

Estrogens

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Pregnancy: Should I Have Screening Tests for Birth Defects?

Why It Is Done

A test for estrogen is done to:

  • Help detect fetal birth defects (especially Down syndrome) during pregnancy. When the test for estriol is combined with alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), it is called a triple screen test. When the amount of a hormone called inhibin A is also measured along with estriol, AFP, and hCG, the test is called a quad marker screen. Other blood tests and fetal ultrasound may be done as well.
  • Evaluate estrogen-producing tumors of the ovaries in girls before menstruation starts and in women after menopause.
  • Explain abnormal sexual characteristics in men, such as enlarged breasts (gynecomastia). This test can also help detect the presence of estrogen-producing tumors growing in the testicles.
  • Monitor therapy with fertility medicines.

How To Prepare

No special preparation is required before having an estrogen test.

Tell your doctor if you:

  • Are menstruating. Note where you are in your menstrual cycle.
  • Are using birth control pills, patches, or rings and other forms of hormonal birth control.
  • Are or might be pregnant.

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Estrogen Tests

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form.

How It Is Done

The health professional drawing blood will:

  • Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein.
  • Clean the needle site with alcohol.
  • Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
  • Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
  • Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
  • Apply a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
  • Apply pressure to the site and then a bandage.

How It Feels

You may feel nothing at all from the needle puncture, or you may feel a brief sting or pinch as the needle goes through the skin. Some people feel a stinging pain while the needle is in the vein. But many people do not feel any pain or have only minor discomfort after the needle is positioned in the vein.

Risks

There is very little risk of complications from having blood drawn from a vein.

  • You may develop a small bruise at the puncture site. You can reduce the risk of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes after the needle is withdrawn.
  • In rare cases, the vein may become inflamed after the blood sample is taken. This condition is called phlebitis and is usually treated with a warm compress applied several times daily.
  • Continued bleeding can be a problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medicines can also make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell your health professional before your blood is drawn.

Results

An estrogen test measures the level of the most important estrogenhormones (estradiol, estriol, and estrone) in a blood or urine sample.

Results are usually available within 24 hours.

http://www.webmd.com/women/estrogens?page=3

Progesterone

A progesterone test measures the amount of the hormoneprogesterone in a blood sample. Progesterone is a female hormone produced by the ovaries during release of a mature egg from an ovary (ovulation). Progesterone helps prepare the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to receive the egg if it becomes fertilized by a sperm. If the egg is not fertilized, progesterone levels drop and menstrual bleeding begins.

During pregnancy, the placenta also produces high levels of progesterone, starting near the end of the first trimester and continuing until the baby is born. Levels of progesterone in a pregnant woman are about 10 times higher than they are in a woman who is not pregnant.

Some types of cancer cause abnormal progesterone levels in men and women.

Why It Is Done

A progesterone test is done to:

  • Help find the cause of infertility.
  • Monitor the success of medicines for infertility or the effect of treatment with progesterone.
  • Help determine whether ovulation is occurring.
  • Assess the risk of miscarriage.
  • Monitor the function of the ovaries and placenta during pregnancy.
  • Help diagnose problems with the adrenal glands and some types ofcancer.

How To Prepare

You may be asked to stop taking medicines (including birth controlpills) that contain estrogen or progesterone, or both, for up to 4 weeks before having a progesterone test.

Tell your doctor if you have had a test that used a radioactive substance (tracer) within the last 7 days. Recent tests such as a thyroidscan or bone scan that used a radioactive tracer can interfere with the test results.

Let your doctor know the first day of your last menstrual period. If your bleeding pattern is light or begins with spotting, the first day is the day of heaviest bleeding.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form.

How It Is Done

The health professional drawing blood will:

  • Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein.
  • Clean the needle site with alcohol.
  • Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
  • Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
  • Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
  • Apply a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
  • Apply pressure to the site and then a bandage.

For a woman who is having problems with her menstrual cycle or who cannot become pregnant, more than one blood sample for progesterone testing may be needed to help identify the problem. A sample may be taken each day for several days in a row.

How It Feels

You may feel nothing at all from the needle puncture, or you may feel a brief sting or pinch as the needle goes through the skin. Some people feel a stinging pain while the needle is in the vein. But many people do not feel any pain or have only minor discomfort once the needle is positioned in the vein.

Risks

There is very little risk of complications from having blood drawn from a vein.

  • You may develop a small bruise at the puncture site. You can reduce the risk of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes after the needle is withdrawn.
  • In rare cases, the vein may become inflamed after the blood sample is taken. This condition is called phlebitis and is usually treated with a warm compress applied several times daily.
  • Continued bleeding can be a problem for people who have bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medicines can also make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell your doctor before your blood is drawn.

Results

A progesterone test measures the amount of the hormoneprogesterone in a blood sample.

Results are usually available within 24 hours.

http://www.webmd.com/women/progesterone-15286?page=3

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