New research suggests testosterone levels in men have a connection to the severity of the COVID-19 symptoms experienced.
A new study might explain why some men experience more severe COVID-19 cases than women.
Conducted by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the study indicates that men with lower testosterone are more likely to develop severe symptoms of COVID-19. This might explain why men, who account for less than half of the population who get COVID-19 in the U.S., are likelier to die of the disease than women.
The effect of sex hormones on COVID-19 has been under scrutiny since the start of the pandemic. Testosterone, which is available in higher percentages in men, made for a perfect opening for a clearer picture of the effect of sex hormones on the disease.
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Studies conducted earlier this year showed links between low testosterone levels and severe COVID-19, but this new study, published in the JAMA Network, expanded on these findings by tracking patients as their disease progressed. It followed 90 male and 62 female patients with COVID-19, noting their hormone levels and trying to pinpoint the link between testosterone and severe symptoms.
While there were no links between women’s COVID-19 disease and their sex hormones, men admitted to hospitals with severe COVID-19 had very low testosterone levels. All men with COVID-19 saw their testosterone levels decrease as their disease progressed.
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It’s important to know that while a link between COVID-19 and low testosterone exists, it’s not a causal correlation. It’s not known if low testosterone levels result in severe COVID-19 or if the reverse is true.
Men who fared worse with COVID-19 tended to have more risk factors like obesity, older age, and diabetes, all of which are also linked with lower testosterone. More research is needed in order to draw further conclusions. Still, this knowledge is important, painting a clearer picture of the disease and perhaps offering new treatment options for a variety of patients.
When discussing testosterone therapy, Abhinav Diwan, cardiologist and senior author of the study, said, “This therapy has been used in men with low levels of sex hormones, so it may be worth investigating whether a similar approach can help male COVID-19 survivors with their rehabilitation.”