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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
- 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
- Are menstruating. Note where you are in your
- 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
- 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
- Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick
may be needed.
- Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with
- Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is
- Apply a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as
the needle is removed.
- Apply pressure to the site and then a