An estradiol test may be ordered if female or male sex characteristics are not developing at the normal rate. An estradiol level that is higher than normal indicates that an individual may be going through puberty earlier than usual. This is a condition known as precocious puberty.
Lower levels of estradiol may indicate that an individual is going through puberty late. The test may also be ordered to look for problems with the adrenal glands or to determine if treatment for hypopituitarism (decreased function of the pituitary gland) is working.
A doctor may order estradiol testing to look for causes of:
- abnormal menstrual periods
- abnormal vaginal bleeding
- infertility in women
Your doctor may also order an estradiol test if your menstrual cycle has stopped and you are experiencing symptoms of menopause.
The estradiol test can indicate how well the ovaries are working. Therefore, your doctor may also order this test if you have symptoms of an ovarian tumor. Symptoms include:
- trouble eating
- pain in the lower abdominal and pelvic area
If you are pregnant or on fertility treatments, your doctor may order this test to help monitor your progress.
An estradiol test usually cannot be used on its own to diagnose conditions. However, the results of this test may help your doctor decide if further testing is necessary.
A testosterone test checks the level of this male hormone (androgen) in the blood.Testosterone affects sexual features and development. In men, it is made in large amounts by the testicles. In both men and women, testosterone is made in small amounts by the adrenal glands; and, in women, by the ovaries.
Prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, is a protein produced by cells of the prostate gland. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in a man’s blood. For this test, a blood sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results are usually reported as nanograms of PSA per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood.
The blood level of PSA is often elevated in men with prostate cancer, and the PSA test was originally approved by the FDA in 1986 to monitor the progression of prostate cancer in men who had already been diagnosed with the disease. In 1994, the FDA approved the use of the PSA test in conjunction with a digital rectal exam (DRE) to test asymptomatic men for prostate cancer. Men who report prostate symptoms often undergo PSA testing (along with a DRE) to help doctors determine the nature of the problem.
In addition to prostate cancer, a number of benign (not cancerous) conditions can cause a man’s PSA level to rise. The most frequent benign prostate conditions that cause an elevation in PSA level are prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) (enlargement of the prostate). There is no evidence that prostatitis or BPH leads to prostate cancer, but it is possible for a man to have one or both of these conditions and to develop prostate cancer as well.