Estrogen in Pregnancy: Roles, Levels and More

Role of Estrogen in Pregnancy

During pregnancy, hormonal fluctuations are commonplace, and an especially prevalent issue involves a marked imbalance in hormones, notably estrogen. This hormonal asymmetry can precipitate a myriad of complications, impacting both the maternal well-being and the overall fetal development. Estrogen, a pivotal hormone during pregnancy, assumes a substantial responsibility in safeguarding the mother’s health while significantly influencing the optimal growth and development of the unborn child. Consequently, maintaining a delicate hormonal equilibrium emerges as a crucial aspect of ensuring a healthy and successful pregnancy, underscoring the intricate interplay of hormones in this transformative physiological journey. Read on to learn all about estradiol levels in pregnancy.

What Is Estrogen?

The human body has numerous hormones that help with the development and maintenance of the human body. Two of these hormones are gender dominant – testosterone and estrogen. All humans have both hormones but women have estrogen as their dominant hormone (while men have testosterone as their dominant hormone).

Estrogen is usually produced in the placenta and ovaries for women. One of the most significant forms of estrogen produced by the human female body is estradiol. It is, in fact, the most important hormone for the welfare of your baby’s development. This hormone allows women to get pregnant and thereafter plays a critical role in preventing miscarriages.

What Role Does Estrogen Play During Pregnancy?

Here are some of the roles estrogen plays during pregnancy:

1. Helps Carry a Baby to Term

Estrogen is a major hormone that involves a lot of minor hormones like estradiol which was mentioned above. The estrogen hormones in women are critical as they are produced by the placenta and ovaries and play a pivotal role in seeing the pregnancy to term. They do so by maintaining the uterine lining which provides a safe space for the growth of the baby. They also help regulate other hormones like progesterone which are essential for foetal growth.

2. Impacts on the Fertility Prospects of the Offspring

Studies by the University Of Maryland Medical Center show that women who are pregnant and have low estrogen levels can in turn damage the chances of their children being fertile enough to carry a child of their own, the same study shows that having too much estrogen can lead to other fertility issues and increase the chances of your child miscarrying. A balanced and healthy estrogen level will drastically improve not just the health of your child but also their chances of having children of their own.

3. Reduces Foetal Malnutrition

Estrogen is an extremely important hormone due to the fact that it plays a critical role in nourishing the developing foetus into a healthy baby that is ready to come out into the world, having a healthy level of estrogen ensures the foetus is nourished well. Having low or high estrogen during pregnancy can increase the risk of foetal malnutrition.

Pregnant mother

What Are the Symptoms of Estrogen When Pregnant?

During pregnancy, monitoring estrogen levels is crucial for assessing maternal and fetal well-being. Imbalances can lead to various symptoms. Here are five significant causes of estrogen-related symptoms during pregnancy:

1. Hormonal Fluctuations

Sudden shifts in estrogen levels may manifest as mood swings and emotional variability in pregnant individuals.

2. Breast Changes

Elevated estrogen contributes to breast tenderness and enlargement, common symptoms experienced during pregnancy.

3. Nausea and Vomiting

Estrogen influences the digestive system, and increased levels may contribute to morning sickness in pregnant women.

4. Fatigue

Hormonal changes, particularly in estrogen, can lead to increased fatigue, impacting the energy levels of expectant mothers.

5. Mood Disorders

Estrogen imbalances may be associated with heightened stress, anxiety, or even depression during pregnancy.

How Is Estrogen Testing Done?

Estrogen tests are done as a part of your pregnancy quad tests, it can also be tested independently regardless of if you are pregnant or not. To test estrogen levels, doctors will draw a little blood and test the blood for components of estrogen called estriol and a protein called alpha-fetoprotein or AFP. They will also test for human chorionic gonadotropin or hCG. By measuring these three aspects through your blood, doctors can accurately gauge your estrogen levels.

Impact of Low Estrogen Level During Pregnancy

Low estrogen during pregnancy can be detrimental to the overall pregnancy and to the kids born, especially females. A low estrogen pregnancy can lead to:

  • Miscarriages
  • Fewer eggs in the female babies born of the pregnancy
  • Fertility issues in female babies born of the pregnancy

The outcome is very specific to individuals, so if you have low estrogen levels, it is recommended you talk to a doctor to understand what your specific risks and challenges.

Change in Estrogen Levels and Normal Value Range in Pregnancy

During pregnancy, your hormones will spike and fall, estrogen is no different. Doctors often recommend women don’t check their estrogen too often due to fears that they may panic without a cause. Usually, during pregnancies, doctors will assess your estrogen levels regularly and provide a range that is considered healthy due to the fluctuations in the levels of hormones. Here are the normal ranges for each trimester during pregnancy.

  • First Trimester – 187-2498 pg/ml
  • Second Trimester – 1276-7193 pg/ml
  • Third Trimester – 6138-3461 pg/ml

It is crucial to remember that estrogen levels do fluctuate. The ranges provided above are considered safe and you can expect your estrogen levels during pregnancy week by week to radically fluctuate. Do not panic if it is within the range provided above or slightly higher or lower.

Tips to Support Estrogen Production in Pregnancy

Maintaining optimal estrogen levels during pregnancy is crucial for the well-being of both the mother and the developing fetus. Here are some tips to support healthy estrogen production during pregnancy:

  • Balanced Diet: Ensure a nutritionally rich diet with a focus on foods containing phytoestrogens, such as flaxseeds, legumes, and whole grains.
  • Regular Exercise: Engage in moderate, pregnancy-safe exercise routines to promote hormonal balance and support overall health.
  • Adequate Sleep: Prioritize sufficient and quality sleep to aid in hormonal regulation, as sleep plays a vital role in maintaining hormonal balance during pregnancy.
  • Stress Management: Practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or prenatal yoga to mitigate stress-related hormonal fluctuations.

FAQs

1. Can High Estradiol Levels in Pregnancy Be a Matter of Concern?

Yes, elevated estradiol in pregnancy can be a concern. It may be associated with complications such as preterm birth or gestational diabetes. Monitoring and consultation with a healthcare provider are essential.

2. What Is the Recommended Frequency for Monitoring Estradiol Levels During Pregnancy?

The frequency of monitoring estradiol levels varies based on individual health conditions. Healthcare providers typically establish a schedule based on specific needs, with more frequent monitoring in high-risk pregnancies.

3. Do Lifestyle Factors Have an Impact on Estradiol Levels During Pregnancy?

Yes, lifestyle factors can influence estradiol levels. A balanced diet, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and stress management contribute to maintaining optimal hormonal balance during pregnancy. Consultation with a healthcare provider is advised for personalized guidance.

If you are concerned about your levels or estrogen and pregnancy risks due to this, we recommend you consult a doctor and ease your fears. Remember, hormonal imbalances are normal during pregnancy and hormonal imbalances can be treated with medication.

References/Resources:

1. Albrecht. E, Pepe. G; Estrogen regulation of placental angiogenesis and fetal ovarian development during primate pregnancy (The International Journal of Developmental Biology); National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804030/; January 2010

2. Estrogen Maintains Pregnancy, Triggers Fetal Maturation; University of Maryland at Baltimore; ScienceDaily; https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1997/03/970321141042.htm; March 1997

3. Massinde. A, Ntubika. S, Magoma. M; Extensive hyperpigmentation during pregnancy: a case report (Journal of Medical Case Reports); National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3183040/; September 2011

4. Kumar. P, Magon. N; Hormones in pregnancy (Niger Med J); National Library of Medicine; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3640235/

5. Berkane. N, Liere. P, Oudinet. J, Hertig. A, et al.; From Pregnancy to Preeclampsia: A Key Role for Estrogens (Endocrine Reviews); Oxford Academic; https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/38/2/123/3061617; March 2017

6. Abbassi-Ghanavati .M, Greer. L, Cunningham. F; Pregnancy and laboratory studies: a reference table for clinicians (Obstetrics & Gynecology); National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19935037/; December 2009

7. Windham. G, Lyall. K, Anderson. M, Kharrazi. M; Autism Spectrum Disorder Risk in Relation to Maternal Mid-Pregnancy Serum Hormone and Protein Markers from Prenatal Screening in California (Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders); National Library of Medicine; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26370672/; February 2016

Also Read:

Low Lymphocytes when Pregnant
Pregnancy-associated Plasma Protein-A (PAPP-A)
FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) Levels in Pregnancy
How to Increase Haemoglobin Levels while Pregnant

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