Blood & Laboratory Values

Estrone – Function & Diseases


Estrone belongs to the group of estrogens and thus to the female sex hormones . It is made in the ovaries , the adrenal glands , and the subcutaneous fat.

What is estrone?

Estrone is the main estrogen in postmenopausal women . In addition to estrone, estradiol and estriol also belong to the group of estrogens. Other spellings for these hormones are estrone, estradiol, and estriol.

In fact, estradiol is the most effective estrogen. After menopause, however, the ovaries produce less estrogen, so estrone becomes more important. The pituitary gland controls the formation of estrogens . The effects of estrone are manifold. Disturbances in the estrone balance can also lead to many different symptoms.

Function, effect & tasks

Estrogens and thus also estrone are the most important female sex hormones. The main task of estrone before menopause is to promote the maturation of a fertilizable egg cell . Estrogens stimulate the growth of the endometrium in the so-called proliferation phase in the first half of the menstrual cycle. 

This phase of proliferation begins immediately after menstruation and ends with ovulation . The hormones ensure good blood circulation in the mucous membrane and also signal to the pituitary gland that the egg cell is ready to rupture. This then produces the luteinizing hormone (LH). Stimulated by the surge in LH, ovulation is triggered. Estrone is also indirectly involved in ovulation. But estrone does not only work in the area of ​​the ovary. There are receptors for estrogens in various organs, such as the female breast or the uterus .

From there, the hormones are channeled directly into the cell nucleus and thus influence cell activity. They stimulate the growth of the female sex organs. Estrogens have a protective effect in the bones . Too low estrogen levels can lead to bone loss. The hormones also have a stimulating effect on the immune system . It is interesting that estrogens in the brain increase hearing sensitivity. With a reduced estrogen level, the ability to hear decreases. In addition, estrogens and thus also estrone are important for storing sounds and speech in the memory.

Formation, Occurrence, Properties & Optimal Values

Estrogens belong to the class of steroid hormones and are produced in the ovaries and in the adrenal cortex. A special feature of estrone is that it can also be obtained from the subcutaneous fatty tissue. There, a male hormone (androstenedione) is transformed into the female sex hormone estrone by a chemical conversion process.

This is particularly important after menopause. In women after the menopause, 95% of the estrone is obtained from the hormones DHEA and androstenedione, which are produced in the adrenal cortex and in the ovaries. This is also the reason why the fat content in the abdomen increases in women after the menopause. This fatty tissue is needed to produce estrone.

Estrone production and release is controlled by the anterior pituitary gland . The pituitary produces follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The FSH is then transported via the bloodstream to the ovaries, where it stimulates the production of estrogens. If the estrogen content is sufficient, the FSH production in the pituitary gland is throttled again. The estrogens are also released according to a certain rhythm. At the beginning of the cycle, the ovaries tend to produce little estrone, but shortly before ovulation a lot of estrone is produced.

Estrone normal values ​​are cycle-dependent. In the follicular phase, the first phase of the cycle, the estrone level in the blood should be between 25 and 120 ng/l. In the middle of the cycle, the value usually rises to 60 to 200 ng/l. In the luteal phase, i.e. the second half of the cycle, the value should be over 200 ng/l. During the menopause , the estrone level levels off between 15 and 80 ng/l.

Diseases & Disorders

Elevated estrone levels are found particularly in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome and in women who are overweight. In polycystic ovary syndrome, the ovaries and the adrenal cortex produce more male sex hormones. These are then increasingly converted into estrone in the fatty tissue. Obese patients have higher estrone levels because they have more fatty tissue. 

The high estrogen levels stimulate the pituitary gland to produce LH . However, estrogen levels do not drop again as in a normal cycle, but remain high. LH levels also remain high. In return, the pituitary secretes less FSH. As a result, ovulation no longer occurs or occurs only rarely. Women with PCOS and women who are very overweight can therefore not or only with great difficulty become pregnant. If ovulation does not occur, the so-called corpus luteum does not develop. This normally determines the course of the second half of the cycle through the production of certain hormones.

As a result, cycle disruptions occur. The menstruation comes only rarely, sometimes it even stops completely. Without ovulation, the egg sacs in the ovaries perish. This creates many small scars and the tissue of the ovary is remodeled into connective tissue. As a result, the ovary is damaged and can only insufficiently perform its function as a hormone producer. In Germany, every fifth to tenth woman is affected by polycystic ovary syndrome .

Estrone deficiency occurs during menopause. The so-called estrogen deficiency syndrome is responsible for many of the typical menopause symptoms. However, adrenal insufficiency or hormonal contraception can also lead to estrogen deficiency. This manifests itself in symptoms such as menstrual disorders , vaginal dryness , hot flashes , dry eyes or infertility .

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.