Healthy Levels of Estrogen in Postmenopausal Women

Updated: August 28, 2023

Menopause woman

What exactly does healthy estrogen production look like after menopause?

This hormone continues to play an essential role in your body long after menopause, which is why keeping an eye on your estrogen levels post menopause is just as important as during the menopausal transition. 

In this article, I’ll walk you through the three different forms of estrogen, how estrogen impacts bone mineral density, and the best way to check your estrogen levels.

estrogen hormone level menopause

The Three Different Forms of Estrogen

While estrogen is often used as a catch-all term, there are actually three different forms of estrogen to be aware of. Each form plays unique roles in your body and is more or less active at different times in your life, particularly during and after the reproductive period.


Estrone (E1) is the primary form of estrogen produced after menopause, primarily synthesized in fat tissue. Estrone is a major source of estradiol formation in our bones and plays a vital role in our ability to maintain healthy bones, especially in older people. 

Estrone is also converted into other metabolites, some protecting against breast and prostate cancers and others that can increase risk. 

Estrone’s potentially inflammatory metabolites, which can increase the risk of cancer if produced in large amounts, are 4-hydroxyestrone (4-OH estrone) and 16α-OH estrone. That said, small amounts of 16α-OH estrone are essential for bone health as this estrone metabolite has a potent estrogenic effect and strongly induces osteoblast (bone-building) formation and activity [1].  

Therefore, the production of 16α-OH estrone is crucial not only for cancer prevention but also for maintaining healthy bones in women as well as men. 

Estrone’s protective metabolites include 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OH estrone), 2-methoxyestrone (2-CH3O-estrone), and estriol (E3).


Estradiol (E2) is the most active form of estrogen and is the primary form of circulating estrogen during our reproductive years. We produce estradiol from estrone and also from testosterone. 

In your body, estradiol will either be circulating in your bloodstream, converted to estrone, or metabolized into one of its two protective derivatives; 2-OH estradiol and 2-methoxyestradiol.


Estriol (E3) is most active during pregnancy and is derived from estrone that has been metabolized into16α-OH estrone (the metabolite that impacts bone health and cancer) but then quickly converted into estriol. 

Estriol is the weakest estrogen. It slows down new cell production, imparting an antiproliferative effect in estrogen-sensitive tissues (like the breast, cervix, uterus, and prostate). 

Estriol also turns down inflammation and the activation of pro-inflammatory molecules in various pathways and specifically lessens activation of a key pathway of osteoclast (bone resorption) activation [2][3][4].

Estrogen’s Effect on Bone Density

Low estrogen levels are directly associated with bone loss due to the vital roles estrogen plays in bone metabolism. This is why so many women begin to experience bone mineral density (BMD) issues around their menopausal years, as estrogen naturally begins to decline. 

This is also why postmenopausal treatment with estrogen is shown to result in significantly reduced markers of bone resorption [5].

But how exactly does estrogen impact bone turnover?

First, estrogen appears to directly target osteoclasts, inhibiting their bone-resorbing activity and inducing their apoptosis (cell death). Thereby, estrogen reduces osteoclasts’ ability to break down bone [6][7]. 

Furthermore, studies show that estrogen can target inflammatory molecules responsible for activating osteoclasts, another way estrogen lessens osteoclast expression [8]. 

In addition, estrogen has the opposite effect on osteoblast (bone-building cells) function by inhibiting osteoblast apoptosis and increasing the lifespan of these cells [9].

estrogens effect on bone density

How to Check Your Estrogen Levels

24-Hour Comprehensive Urine Hormone Test

There are several ways to check your estrogen levels (including blood and saliva tests), but urine testing is by far the most accurate. 

Throughout a 24-hour period, your hormones fluctuate significantly, meaning that the time during which you take your test will greatly impact your results. While saliva and blood tests simply provide a snapshot of your hormones during one moment, urine tests taken throughout the day can give you a more accurate view of how your hormone levels are functioning during an entire 24-hour period. 

Furthermore, a 24-Hour Comprehensive Urine Hormone Test will show you your levels of 2-methoxyestradiol, a highly beneficial form of estrogen produced in your liver from estradiol. 2-methoxyestradiol protects your heart and blood vessels, has anti-cancer effects, and inhibits bone resorption. This metabolite will not be detectable in blood or saliva tests.

Interpreting Your Results: Estrogen Metabolism

Another benefit of the Comprehensive 24 Hour Urine Hormone test is that it will show you several markers that provide insight into how your body metabolizes estrogen. This will help you and your doctor determine if your estrogen metabolites are the health-promoting compounds or if you are producing some potentially dangerous ones. 

Below are two markers to pay attention to:

#1 Estrogen Quotient

The estrogen quotient is the amount of Estriol (E3) divided by the sum of Estrone (E1) + Estradiol (E2). This ratio indicates how much protective, cancer-preventive estrogen you’re producing compared to the more active, potentially cancer-promoting forms of estrogen.  

Your results here will appear as either an EQ<1 or an EQ>1. 

  • An EQ<1 indicates increased production of pro-inflammatory derivatives of estrone or estradiol called the 3,4-catechol estrogen quinones, which promote breast cancer. 
  • An EQ >1 indicates estrone and estradiol are being converted to protective 2-OH estrogen metabolites, indicating a lower risk of breast cancer. 

Even if your lab test shows an EQ of <1, there are safe, natural, and very effective ways of improving your estriol production and correcting this.

#2 The 2/16α Ratio

The 2/16α ratio is the ratio of the protective metabolite of estrone, 2-hydroxyestrone (2-OH E1), to the super potent estrone metabolite called 16α-hydroxyestrone (16α-OH E1). The ratio of the gentle estrogen you’re producing to the potent estrogen you’re producing indicates your risk for developing breast or endometrial cancer and, if you’re a man, prostate cancer.

However, maintaining balanced levels of 16α-OH estrone is crucial for bone building. Very low levels indicate an increased risk for osteoporosis and osteopenia. Therefore, healthy levels of this marker hit the sweet spot: not too high but not too low.

The ideal 2/16α Ratio range is 2 to 4, with a ratio of <2 indicating too much 16α-OH estrone and a ratio of >4 indicating not enough 16α-OH estrone.

cruciferous vegetables

The good news is that this ratio is also highly modifiable with natural interventions.

Estrone’s conversion to (pro-carcinogenic) 16α-OH E1 is promoted by obesity, hypothyroidism, pesticides, alcohol, and cimetidine (the H2-blocker drug, Tagamet). 

Estrone’s conversion to (protective) 2-OH E1 is promoted by: 

● Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, and turnips)

● Exercise 

● Flax 

● Soyfoods and, last but definitely not least, 

● Omega-3 fatty acids, which we get in Triple Power Fish Oil.


After menopause, a woman’s ovaries stop producing estrogen, but this doesn’t mean your body no longer needs or completely stops producing estrogen in other areas. In fact, you continue to produce small amounts of estrogen in many other cells and tissues where estrogen plays critical protective roles, including in your cardiovascular system and brain, as well as your bones [10]. 

Therefore, even though your estrogen production will have diminished post-menopause, it’s still a good idea to check your estrogen levels, so you know how your body is metabolizing it. If you decide to utilize bio-identical hormone replacement, checking your estrogen levels and estrogen metabolites is even more essential. In either situation, you will want to know if you are producing healthy levels of bone-protective estrogen, or if you might be producing estrogen metabolites that could increase your risk for cancer? Once you know how your body is metabolizing estrogens, you can relax or gently nudge your estrogen metabolism into safe, protective metabolites.

For a complete overview of the 24-Hour Comprehensive Urine Hormone Test join the AlgaeCal Community. In the group, you’ll find lectures and printable PDFs covering this and other hormone tests.


How does low estrogen affect bone density?

Estrogen plays a role in promoting osteoblast activity and inhibiting osteoclast production and activity. Therefore, when estrogen is low, the inhibition of osteoclasts declines, creating more bone resorption, while the promotion of osteoblast activity also declines, reducing bone rebuilding.

What is the difference between estrone and estradiol?

Estrone is the primary active form of estrogen once we are postmenopausal, while estradiol is the primary form of active estrogen during women’s reproductive years

What should estrogen levels be in postmenopausal women?

Normal levels of estradiol are 0 to 30 pg/mL for postmenopausal women. Estrone levels are in the range of about 14 to 103 pg/mL.

Article Sources

  1. Robinson, John A., et al. "Direct action of naturally occurring estrogen metabolites on human osteoblastic cells." Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 15.3 (2000): 499-506.
  2. Zhang, Elizabeth Yan, and Bao-Ting Zhu. "Estriol strongly inhibits DNCB-induced contact dermatitis: role of antigen-specific antibodies in pathogenesis." Endocrine Connections 3.4 (2014): 161.
  3. Soldan, Samantha S., et al. "Immune modulation in multiple sclerosis patients treated with the pregnancy hormone estriol." The Journal of Immunology 171.11 (2003): 6267-6274.
  4. Shevde, Nirupama K., et al. "Estrogens suppress RANK ligand-induced osteoclast differentiation via a stromal cell independent mechanism involving c-Jun repression." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 97.14 (2000): 7829-7834.
  5. Hannon, Rosemary, et al. "Response of biochemical markers of bone turnover to hormone replacement therapy: impact of biological variability." Journal of Bone and Mineral Research 13.7 (1998): 1124-1133.
  6. Kameda, Takashi, et al. "Estrogen inhibits bone resorption by directly inducing apoptosis of the bone-resorbing osteoclasts." The Journal of experimental medicine 186.4 (1997): 489-495.
  7. Khosla, Sundeep, Merry Jo Oursler, and David G. Monroe. "Estrogen and the skeleton." Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism 23.11 (2012): 576-581.
  8. Streicher, Carmen, et al. "Estrogen regulates bone turnover by targeting RANKL expression in bone lining cells." Scientific reports 7.1 (2017): 1-14.
  9. Kousteni, S., et al. "Nongenotropic, sex-nonspecific signaling through the estrogen or androgen receptors: dissociation from transcriptional activity." Cell 104.5 (2001): 719-730.
  10. Cui, Jie, Yong Shen, and Rena Li. "Estrogen synthesis and signaling pathways during aging: from periphery to brain." Trends in molecular medicine 19.3 (2013): 197-209.

Article Comments

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  1. Donnu DelForno

    August 23, 2023 , 6:31 pm

    How do you significantly boost up your estrogen levels?

  2. Megan @ AlgaeCal

    August 24, 2023 , 2:10 pm

    Thanks for reaching out, Donnu! This is a great question, however, it is unfortunately outside the area of our Bone Health Consultants’ expertise. You may find it helpful to work with your doctor or another medical professional to determine some options that will work best for you. Hope this helps! ❤️
    – Megan

  3. Lora Pinter

    August 26, 2023 , 6:36 am


  4. Shelby AlgaeCal

    August 28, 2023 , 9:26 am

    Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, Lora!
    – Shelby

  5. Loren Fishman

    August 26, 2023 , 9:21 am

    Another good one, Lara.

    Loren Fishman

  6. Nancy

    August 26, 2023 , 11:23 am

    No doctor will give me an estrogen supplement even though I have bad arthritis osteoporosis spinal contusions herniated discs etc

  7. Shelby AlgaeCal

    August 28, 2023 , 12:31 pm

    We’re so sorry to hear about what’s been going on with your health, Nancy, and hope that you’re able to find the support you need. It may help to work with a Functional Medicine practitioner for a second opinion, and if you’re interested in looking for a provider in your area, you can click HERE. I hope this helps, and please do let us know if there’s anything else we can do to assist you.
    – Shelby

  8. Marilyn Z Grashow

    September 19, 2023 , 3:13 pm

    find another doctor. One who uses bhrt and do the blood tests for all female hormones and all thyroid hormones. Also due the urine test tat compares 2 hydroxy estrone to 16 alpha hydroxy estrone.

  9. Judy Ivers

    August 26, 2023 , 7:05 pm

    How does estrogen impact my sex drive at age 66 ? My husband of 48 years is getting very frustrated with my lack of desire & interest. Could low estrogen levels be the cause ?

  10. Shelby AlgaeCal

    August 28, 2023 , 12:39 pm

    We’re so sorry to hear this, Judy. We aren’t medical professionals and this topic is a little outside of our scope, so it would definitely be a good idea to reach out to your doctor or healthcare provider to discuss this in further detail. We hope that you’re able to get all of the support that you need!
    – Shelby

  11. Debbie Oswald

    August 26, 2023 , 10:45 pm

    Great article! Do you have a recommendation on where I can get tested for estrogen levels???

  12. Shelby AlgaeCal

    August 28, 2023 , 11:00 am

    Thank you for your feedback, Debbie! if you’d like to have your estrogen levels tested, we would recommend speaking to your healthcare provider, as they can requisition testing for you. Hope this helps!
    – Shelby

  13. Christa Viets

    August 27, 2023 , 4:52 am

    Good article. Is a “Comprehensive Hormone Urine Test” something that is available for home use? Or do I have to go to a doctor and explain what I want? Most docs don’t even seem to care about hormone levels.

  14. Shelby AlgaeCal

    August 28, 2023 , 11:05 am

    We’re so glad you enjoyed our article, Christa! To answer your question, a Comprehensive Hormone Urine Test is something you’d need to speak with your doctor about, as they will likely need to requisition this type of testing for you. Additionally, it may be helpful to work with a Functional Medicine practitioner and to find one in your area, you can click HERE. Of course, do let us know if you have any other questions. 🙂
    – Shelby

  15. Elsa Gouws

    August 27, 2023 , 11:35 am

    Does one have to go through a doctor’s office to get this 24 hour estrogen test done?
    Great article!

  16. Shelby AlgaeCal

    August 28, 2023 , 12:11 pm

    Great question, Elsa! Yes, it’s my understanding that this type of testing will need to be organized through a healthcare provider. Of course, do let us know if you have any other questions!
    – Shelby

  17. Diane

    August 27, 2023 , 3:45 pm

    Should I be taking an estrogen supplement, I am 64 and have osteoporosis. I do not want to take HRT because of its adverse effects on other parts of the body, but do I just let my estrogen plummet?

  18. Shelby AlgaeCal

    August 28, 2023 , 10:33 am

    Thank you for reaching out, Diane! We’re sorry to hear that you have bone loss, and absolutely understand your concern. As we aren’t medical professionals, we would definitely recommend speaking with your doctor about having hormone testing done, and how to best balance your hormone levels if needed. I hope this helps, and please do let us know if you have any other questions we can assist with!
    – Shelby

  19. Judith Hinzmann

    August 27, 2023 , 5:10 pm

    what about postmenopausal women who had ovaries removed? How are they affected? Algea cal has increased my bone density, but I still have osteoporosis. I hope it will continue to increase. I am long past menopause.

  20. Shelby AlgaeCal

    August 28, 2023 , 10:26 am

    Great question, Judith! As Lara mentions in the article, “After menopause, a woman’s ovaries stop producing estrogen, but this doesn’t mean your body no longer needs or completely stops producing estrogen in other areas. In fact, you continue to produce small amounts of estrogen in many other cells and tissues where estrogen plays critical protective roles”. So even though your ovaries have been removed, your body is still producing small amounts of estrogen!

    On another note, we are absolutely thrilled to hear that you’ve increased your bone density since starting the AlgaeCal program – this is incredible news, congratulations! Of course, we would certainly expect you to continue to increase your bone density if you continue to take your AlgaeCal consistently. It may help to know that our most recent clinical study was conducted over the course of 7 years, and participants were seeing linear bone density increases of about 1% on average over the entire study! Apart from this, we have customers share with us regularly that they’ve had multiple DEXA scans after starting AlgaeCal, and have seen improvement on each and every scan. 🙂

    I hope this helps, and please know that you’re always welcome to reach out to us at 1-800-820-0184 (USA & Canada toll-free) for personalized support!
    – Shelby

  21. Patricia Simecka

    August 27, 2023 , 7:26 pm

    I just read this article and wonder where do I find the tape to test my urine and know my hormone levels over a 24 hour period?
    Thank you…Patricia Simecka
    [email protected]

  22. Shelby AlgaeCal

    August 28, 2023 , 12:10 pm

    Thank you for reaching out, Patricia! To have a 24-Hour Comprehensive Urine Hormone Test done, you will likely have to your a healthcare provider requisition it for you – from there, they would be able to provide you with all of the specifics! I hope this helps, and of course, do let us know if you have any other questions. 🙂
    – Shelby

  23. Allyson

    August 28, 2023 , 8:29 am

    I am 76 years old and have been on HRT (bio identical) since a complete hysterectomy when I was 48 years old. I recently stopped using it due to concerns about Brest cancer. Are you advocating HRT for one’s entire life?

  24. Shelby AlgaeCal

    August 28, 2023 , 10:13 am

    Thank you for reaching out, Allyson! As we aren’t medical professionals, we always recommend connecting with a healthcare provider to discuss if particular medical treatments are appropriate for an individual based on their own unique circumstances – what may be a good fit for someone may not be for another, and individual needs also change over time! I hope this helps answer your question, and if there’s anything else we can assist with, please let us know. You’re also welcome to reach out anytime at 1-800-820-0184 (USA & Canada toll-free) or [email protected]. 🙂

  25. margaret morris

    August 29, 2023 , 12:16 pm

    I had a thermal image done twice and a saliva test all very expensive but i had breast cancer only stage 2 but needed to understand these estrogens. as i am told iam estrogen reseptive positive..i had radiotherapy didnt want it but thought better 5 days Anaastrozone as i take algae cal and strontium..yet i cannot keep afford all these things ..i am 76 pensioner work till 73 to pay for algae cal as i believe it got me back to ostopenia.thebreast care nurses said i was high in estrogen but which one i asked ..ho just all!! I have taken myomin as a cancer inhibitor and hope it works..wont have mamo now as it was them that burst a papilloma and hence cancer and then cancer ER an another op..mamo had said clear!!! i found the other lump..and opp followed. Were can ii buy and try the urine test would my GP do it…sorry to rabbit just thought need to tell you… I am worried buying supplements now even yours has micro chrystaline in and an other ingredient not good on human body..forgive if spelt medic things wrong but on yr bottle it says those ingredients..maggie..

  26. Yoori AlgaeCal

    August 29, 2023 , 5:19 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story with us, Margaret. We would recommend speaking to your healthcare provider to order the testing for you! 🙂 Please let us know if you have any further questions. We are happy to help!

    – Yoori

  27. Angie Sist

    September 2, 2023 , 7:14 am

    thank you for the awesome article ❤️ very empowering ❤️🙏💙 so sad that we are all so confused about soy products … whether they harm or benefit us with regard to breast cancer and etc.

  28. Manja AlgaeCal

    September 4, 2023 , 1:05 pm

    We’re glad to hear you found it helpful, Angie! With the flood of information published in medical journals and online, it’s very easy to get confused. That’s why we try to filter through and only publish the information that is supported by quality, up-to-date studies.
    – Manja

This article features advice from our industry experts to give you the best possible info through cutting-edge research.

Lara Pizzorno
MDiv, MA, LMT - Best-selling author of Healthy Bones Healthy You! and Your Bones; Editor of Longevity Medicine Review, and Senior Medical Editor for Integrative Medicine Advisors.,
Dr. Liz Lipski
PhD, CNS, FACN, IFMP, BCHN, LDN - Professor and Director of Academic Development, Nutrition programs in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health.,
Dr. Loren Fishman
MD, B.Phil.,(oxon.) - Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Founder of the Yoga Injury Prevention Website.,
Prof. Didier Hans
PHD, MBA - Head of Research & Development Center of Bone Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital CHUV, Switzerland,