What is estrone?
Estrone is a female sex hormone. It is the weakest of the three types of estrogen. Estrogen is one of the two main female sex hormones, along with progesterone. The three types of estrogen include:
- Estrone (E1) continues to be made after menopause when periods stop.
- Estradiol (E2) is the main female hormone throughout most women’s lives.
- Estriol (E3) increases during pregnancy.
After menopause, estrone is the only type of estrogen that your body keeps making naturally. Postmenopausal people usually have higher estrone levels than those who are premenopausal. Men and people designated male at birth also have estrone, but in much lower amounts than people designated female at birth.
Where is estrone produced?
Like other types of estrogen, estrone forms in the adrenal glands and fatty tissue (adipose tissue). The ovaries also produce estrone.
What is the purpose of estrone?
Like other types of estrogen, estrone plays a role in female sexual function and reproductive health. But it isn’t as powerful as other types of estrogen. Estrone can also be a storehouse for estrogen. Your body can convert estrone into estrogen when you need estrogen.
How does estrone differ from estradiol?
Estrone can convert to estradiol when your body needs a stronger type of estrogen. Estradiol helps maintain natural female reproductive processes, such as:
- Releasing mature eggs during the menstrual cycle.
- Thickening the uterine lining to prepare for fertilization.
In people of all genders, natural estradiol and estrone-converted estradiol helps to maintain:
- Bone health.
- Cognitive function.
- Production of nitric oxide, a molecule that helps blood vessels open.
Conditions and Disorders
What conditions and disorders are related to estrone?
Experts don’t know all the ways that irregular estrone levels can affect people designated female at birth.
All types of low estrogen, including estrone, can increase your risk of osteoporosis. In people who continue to experience fatigue, hot flashes or low sex drive after menopause, low estrone could be the cause.
High estrone levels may increase the growth of breast cancer and uterine cancer.
What causes high estrone?
Some conditions can cause high estrone. Because estrone forms in fatty tissue, obesity can lead to more estrone production. Other causes of high estrone may include:
How do irregular estrogen levels affect your body?
Low or high estrogen levels can cause uncomfortable symptoms in people of all genders.
In people designated female at birth, low estrogen can lead to:
- Abnormal uterine bleeding (AUB).
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Dry skin.
- Irregular periods.
- Menstrual migraines, a headache right before your period starts.
In people designated male at birth, low estrogen may lead to:
- High belly fat.
- Low sex drive.
High estrogen can also cause problems. In people designated female at birth, it may cause:
- Depression or anxiety.
- Heavy or light periods.
- Low libido (sex drive).
- Noncancerous lumps in breast tissue (fibrocystic breast changes).
- Severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
- Uterine fibroids.
- Weight gain in the hips, thighs or waist.
For people designated male at birth, high estrogen may cause:
What are some lifestyle practices that keep estrone levels in a healthy range?
Hormonal imbalances can lead to uncomfortable symptoms, such as fatigue, mood swings or irregular bleeding. To balance hormones and keep estrone levels in a healthy range, you may:
- Eat a nutritious diet that includes a balance of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fat and protein.
- Exercise regularly, incorporating both cardiovascular exercise and resistance training.
- Manage stress with coping tools such as talk therapy or meditation.
- Sleep at least seven hours each night. Practice healthy sleep hygiene, such as turning off electronic devices at least an hour before bed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can estrone be used as a medication?
Yes. Estrone is a hormone all adults make naturally. But it can also be part of medical treatment. Healthcare providers can use estrone in hormone therapy (HT). HT is a treatment to treat menopause symptoms if they interfere with your life.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Estrone is one of the three main types of estrogen. It's a female sex hormone that helps with sexual development and the reproductive system. People designated male at birth also have estrone, but in lower amounts than those designated female at birth. Estrone levels are typically higher after menopause. Because estrone is a weaker type of estrogen, it can convert to estradiol when the body needs it. Low or high estrone can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as irregular bleeding, fatigue, mood swings or difficulty sleeping.
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