Estradiol, also known as E2 or 17β-estradiol, is an estrogen steroid hormone and the major female sex hormone. It is involved in the regulation of female reproductive cycles and it is responsible for the development of female secondary sexual characteristics.
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Estradiol is predominately produced within the follicles of the ovaries and upon menopause in women, production of estrogens by the ovaries stops and estradiol levels decrease to very low levels. Low levels of estradiol can lead to loss of bone mass and fertility challenges in both sexes, premature menopause, depression and premature skin aging. Abnormally high levels of estradiol can result in early puberty in both sexes, development of breast tissue in males (gynecomastia), and may drive ovarian, breast and endometrial cancer.
Testing for Estradiol is useful to diagnose cases of infertility, abnormal menses, and to monitor follicular development during assisted reproduction protocols. Typically, a quantitative serum test is used to make a differential diagnosis and subsequent treatment plan.
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