Estrogen Levels During Pregnancy

by Erin Schreiner Google

During pregnancy, your body cranks estrogen production into overdrive. This hormone, which is vital in the development of female sex characteristics, also plays a part in establishing and maintaining pregnancy. The fluctuation of estrogen throughout your pregnancy has a major impact on your body during this physically complex time. It also plays a part in the development of many of the most commonly observed symptoms of pregnancy.

Role of Estrogen

Estrogen is a female sex hormone that is generally produced by the ovaries, but it is also produced by the placenta during pregnancy, reports the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. This hormone controls the development of female sex characteristics and allows you to become, and stay, pregnant.

Estrogen Testing

During your pregnancy, you have the option to receive an estrogen test as part of the quad screen process used to detect potential birth defects. If you elect to participate in this test, your medical practitioner will draw your blood and test it for estriol, a form of estrogen, as well as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and inhibin. Through the completion of this screening process, your doctor can determine whether your child will likely suffer from a host of potentially serious disorders, including Down syndrome.

Impact of Low Estrogen

Low estrogen levels during pregnancy could have a lifelong impact on any female offspring born of the pregnancy, reports the University of Maryland Medical Center. In a study into the effects of estrogen on unborn children, UMMC discovered that female children born to mothers with low-pregnancy estrogen levels were born with fewer eggs and, as a result, may struggle with fertility later in life.

Levels in Flux

The amount of estrogen your body produces during pregnancy is not constant; it is always in flux. As you move through your pregnancy, the amount of estrogen present in your body will continue to increase. This is due, in part, to the fact that the more developed your placenta, the more capable it is of producing estrogen.

Estrogen at Pregnancy's End

As Science Daily reports, the large levels of estrogen present at your pregnancy's end play an important part in preparing your child for birth. These high levels of estrogen induce fetal maturation, allowing your child to finish the developmental steps necessary to prepare for his entry into the world.

About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images