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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.

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(What is a PDF document?).

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.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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