Estradiol vs Estrogen: Understanding the Differences and Similarities

Photo of author
Dinesh Patel
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Akanksha Kaushal
Dr. Akanksha Kaushal Dr. Akanksha, Pharm-D

Reviews medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

Proofread by
Naina Trivedi
Naina Trivedi Naina Trivedi

Naina holds a Diploma in Health and Fitness studies and has been working in the health information industry for the past 10 years. She finds her passion in sharing accessible health content with the world.


When we discuss female sex hormones and their impact on the body, the terms Estradiol and Estrogen are often used interchangeably. 

Estrogen is a hormone that plays a significant role in developing the female reproductive system. 

These hormones are also present in males but in lower quantities.

On the other hand, Estradiol is a specific type of Estrogen, making it the primary form of Estrogen in the female body. 

It is produced primarily in the ovaries and plays a central role in the menstrual and reproductive systems.

While Estradiol can be used instead of Estrogen and vice-versa, they have certain differences and similarities.

In this article, we will see how these two differ from each other, their functions, and their uses. 

Quick Overview: Estradiol vs Estrogen

Here is a quick overview to give a clear picture of these hormones.

DefinitionIt is a group of hormones in females It is a specific form of Estrogen
ProductionOvaries, adrenal glands, and fat cellsOvaries
RoleDevelopment of secondary sexual characteristics, regulation of the menstrual cycle, growth, and maintenance of reproductive tissuesThe primary role is in the menstrual cycle, the development of female secondary sexual features during puberty
Levels in femalesHigher before ovulation (follicular phase), lower after the ovulation (luteal phase)Changes throughout the menstrual cycle
Levels in malesPresent in lower quantitiesPresent in lower amounts
PotencyVaries between different Estrogen compoundsConsidered the most potent Estrogen
Molecular structureIncludes Estradiol, Estrone, and EstriolA specific form of Estrogen with a stronger binding affinity for estrogen receptors
Medical applicationsHormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal symptom reliefThe preferred choice for HRT due to its effectiveness in addressing menopausal symptoms

What is Estrogen?

Estrogen is a hormone related to the female reproductive organs and helps develop secondary female sexual features. 

It also regulates the menstrual cycle and the growth and maintenance of reproductive tissues.

It is produced in many locations within the body, like ovaries, adrenal glands, and fat cells. 

Apart from its role in reproductive health, Estrogen affects other organs and tissues of the body.

It affects bone density, cardiovascular health, cognitive function, mood regulation, and the maintenance of healthy skin.

What is Estradiol?

Estradiol is a type of Estrogen primarily associated with the female reproductive system. 

Among the various kinds of Estrogen, Estradiol is the most potent and biologically active form in the human body.

Estradiol is essential in developing and maintaining female reproductive tissues and secondary sexual characteristics. 

It is primarily produced in the ovaries. But adrenal glands and peripheral tissues, such as skin, gut, and lungs, produce Estradiol in small quantities. 

Where are Estradiol and Estrogen located in the body?

They are produced and located in various body parts, primarily in females but also in smaller quantities in males.

Here’s a breakdown of their locations:


Estradiol is located at:

  • Estradiol is primarily produced in the ovaries of females
  • The developing follicles within the ovaries are responsible for synthesizing and releasing Estradiol
  • In males, small amounts of Estradiol are produced in the testes by converting testosterone to Estradiol through the enzyme Aromatase
An aromatase inhibitor is a very effective therapy for treating endocrine-responsive breast cancer.


Here is where Estrogen is located:

  • In females, Estrogens are produced primarily in the ovaries. They are also made in smaller amounts in other tissues, including the adrenal glands, like kidneys and fat cells
  • During pregnancy, the placenta also secretes Estrogen
  • In males, the testes are the primary source of Estrogen. The Leydig cells in the testes produce a small amount of Estrogen by converting Testosterone into Estrogen

Functions of Estradiol and Estrogen

Taking Estradiol medicine - supports cardiovascular healthSource: freepik
Estradiol medicine – supports cardiovascular health

As Estradiol is a form of Estrogen, they have similar functions. 

However, they differ in the potency of their ability to bind the proteins with estrogen hormones. 

Their effectiveness can vary based on the condition treated and factors like age and health. 


The functions of Estrogen are:

  • Estrogen helps in developing and maintaining female sexual characteristics, like breast development and the widening of hips.
  • It also regulates the menstrual cycle and plays a role in maintaining bone density, cardiovascular health, mental processes and abilities, and overall well-being.
  • Estrogen is also involved in the functioning of various organs and tissues, including the uterus, ovaries, breasts, and brain


The functions of Estradiol are:

  • It is primarily produced in the ovaries and helps in the regulation of the menstrual cycle and the development of secondary sexual characteristics, specifically during puberty.
  • Estradiol plays a crucial role in maintaining bone density, supporting cardiovascular health, regulating cognitive function as well as mood and well-being.
  • It acts as a communication system of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis, which regulates reproductive hormone production.

Uses of Estradiol and Estrogen

There are several conditions that these hormones can cure and prevent them.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

These two hormones have proved to be effective in hormone replacement therapy.


  • Relieves menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood changes)
  • Restores hormonal balance in menopause or other conditions


  • Relieves menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, vaginal dryness, discomfort during sex)
  • Used in hormone therapy for male-to-female transgender patients
  • Estradiol is the first option in hormone replacement therapy

Postmenopausal Osteoporosis

It is a progressive loss of bone tissue that starts after menopause. 


  • Slows the progression of osteoporosis
  • Maintains bone density
  • Reduces risk of fractures


  • Prevents and treats osteoporosis
  • Improves bone density    

Primary Ovarian Insufficiency

It happens when a woman’s ovary stops working and producing hormones before age 40.


  • Replaces deficient estrogen levels in women with POI


  • Used for primary ovarian insufficiency and low estrogen conditions   
Primary ovarian insufficiency can increase the risk of bone loss and endocrine disorders such as Acromegaly, Cystic Fibrosis link, and Graves’ Disease.

Hypogonadism in Women

In this condition, the ovaries of the women stop producing sex hormones. 


  • Restores hormonal balance
  • Relieves symptoms   


  • Used for hypogonadism in women and low estrogen conditions


Estrogen and Estradiol both act as contraception to women when taken as contraceptive pills. 

Estrogen and Estardiol

  • A variety of Norethindrone/progesterone combined with both Estrogen and Estradiol  is used to avoid pregnancy.

Moderate Acne Vulgaris

PMS AcneSource: pixelshot

It refers to a moderate form of acne, a common skin condition such as pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and sometimes deeper, inflamed lesions. 


  • It helps regulate hormone levels
  • Reduces acne breakouts


  • Norgestimate and Ethinyl Estradiol help treat moderate acne vulgaris

Prostate Cancer

These hormones can be beneficial by manipulating the hormonal balance by reducing Testosterone levels. 


  • Considered in advanced stages
  • Suppresses cancer cell growth in the prostate


  • According to a 2004 UK study, Estradiol transdermal patches are effective in castration levels in patients with advanced prostate cancer.

Cardiovascular health

Estrogen and Estradiol can impact the cardiovascular health of both women and men.


  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Regulates cholesterol and triglyceride metabolism


  • Endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase (eNOS) produces nitric oxide, which helps relax blood vessels and maintain normal blood pressure, promoting cardiovascular health. 

How to administer Estradiol and Estrogen

Some methods to administer Estradiol and Estrogen are:

  • Oral medications
  • Vaginal ring
  • Intramuscular injection
  • Transdermal patches for the systemetic distribution of medication 
  • Vaginal cream

Side Effects of Estradiol vs. Estrogen

pms cramps/stomach crampsSource: Africa_Images
Stomach cramps

Estrogen and Estradiol can cause certain side effects. 

Here are the side effects associated with Estrogen and Estradiol, natural or synthesized:

  • Common adverse effects include breast tenderness, nausea, stomach cramps, weight gain, hyperpigmentation of the skin, hair loss, vaginal itching, and anaphylaxis.
    More severe side effects include hypertension, cerebrovascular accident, myocardial infarction, pulmonary embolism, and epilepsy.
    Other side effects are exacerbation of asthma, galactorrhea, and nipple discharge, gallbladder disease, vaginitis.
  • There is also an increased risk of cervical cancer and breast cancer with Estrogen.
  • Box warnings given by FDA include an increased risk of endometrial cancer and breast cancer when used without progestins.
  • There is also an increased risk of myocardial infarction, stroke, pulmonary emboli, deep vein thrombosis, invasive breast cancer, and dementia in postmenopausal women.
  • Increased risk of endometrial cancer is linked with increased exposure to Estrogen.
  • Other risk factors associated with increased exposure to estrogen HRT include cerebrovascular events, coronary artery disease, and venous thromboembolism.
  • There are reports of ovarian cancer with estradiol use.


In summary, Estrogen and Estradiol are closely related to female sex hormones. 

Estrogen is a group of hormones responsible for developing the female reproductive system, while Estradiol is the primary and most potent form of Estrogen. 

They are produced in the ovaries and have the same functions in regulating the menstrual cycle and supporting reproductive tissues.

Estradiol is preferred in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for menopausal symptoms as it is more effective. 

Synthesized Estradiol can be converted into other forms of Estrogens, including Estrone.

Estrogen, including Estradiol, is used through various methods such as oral tablets, patches, injections, and creams.

Both hormones are used in medical applications like treating osteoporosis, primary ovarian insufficiency, hypogonadism, contraception, acne, prostate cancer, and cardiovascular health.

It is essential to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice and appropriate hormone therapy. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Estradiol a type of Estrogen?

Yes, Estradiol is a type of Estrogen. It is the primary and most potent form of Estrogen in the human body. Estradiol is preferred use in hormonal replacement therapy. 

What are the 3 types of Estrogen?

The three types of Estrogen. Estradiol is the most potent and biologically active form of Estrogen. Estrone is a weaker estrogen primarily produced in the ovaries after menopause. Estriol is the lowest form of Estrogen and is mainly produced during pregnancy by the placenta.

Are Estrogen and Estradiol used interchangeably?

Yes, Estrogen and Estradiol are often used interchangeably, although they differ. While Estrogen is a broader term encompassing various hormone compounds, Estradiol refers specifically to one type of Estrogen. It is advisable to seek medical counsel before taking Estrogen or Estradiol.

What food has natural Estrogen?

Several foods contain natural plant compounds that have estrogen-like effects on the body. Some foods that are good sources of natural Estrogen are soybeans and soy-based products like tofu, tempeh, soy milk, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, legumes, and whole grains. 

WowRxPharmacy uses only high-quality sources while writing our articles. Please read our content information policy to know more about how we keep our content reliable and trustworthy.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 182

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

Leave a Comment

Receive the latest articles in your inbox!