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It has become clear that male patients suffer from more severe COVID-19 symptoms as compared to female patients. This led to a wrong conclusion that testosterone might be the culprit since men have more testosterone than women.
In this study, serum samples were analyzed from COVID-19 positive patients admitted between March to May 2020, at the Barnes Jewish Hospital in Missouri.
Testosterone, Estradiol and IGF-1 were measured at different time intervals to investigate if their concentrations in the blood was associated with severity of COVID-19 and inflammation.
In the findings, higher levels of testosterone protected patients from the severity of the disease, and low testosterone indicated severity of coronavirus and inflammation.
This study which was probing if any connection exists between levels of sex hormones in the blood and acute COVID-19, found the opposite evidence. Testosterone protects men from experiencing severe symptoms of the coronavirus. This was true taking into consideration age, race, comorbidities, BMI etc. Across the board it was found that low testosterone was a flag to severe disease, even causing fatalities.
While the study did not prove that low-T in itself was the casual factor, it demonstrated that low-T was a definite indicator to issues that caused severe Covid.
This study was published in JAMA Open Network (Journal of The American Medical association) May 2021 edition. (citation & link to full article below).
A total of 152 patients were in the study, of which 9 were outpatients. One hundred and forty three patients were hospitalized. Ninety men and 62 women participated.
For men, only low testosterone correlated to severe COVID-19, while no correlation was found for women with respect to hormone levels. Testosterone level during hospital admission for men averaged 53 nanograms per deciliter, while those with milder infection had average levels of 151 nanograms per deciliter. The average was reduced to 19 for those who were very ill on the third day.
Among men, only low testosterone levels were linked to COVID-19 severity. A blood testosterone level of 250 nanograms per deciliter or less is considered low-T in adult men. At hospital admission, men with severe COVID-19 had average T-levels of 53 nanograms per deciliter; men with less severe disease had average levels of 151 nanograms per deciliter. By day three, the average testosterone level of the most severely ill men was only 19 nanograms per deciliter.
A clear pattern that emerged – lower the T levels, increased severity of disease and inflammation.
With new mutations causing more outbreaks and further research continuing on using testosterone as therapy, it might not be a bad idea to get testosterone levels tested if you are positive for the coronavirus. This may help with favorable outcomes and reduce severity and fatality in men from COVID-19.
There is also a possibility that men suffering from comorbidities should test T-levels as a preventive precaution.
Dhindsa S, Zhang N, McPhaul MJ, et al. Association of Circulating Sex Hormones With Inflammation and Disease Severity in Patients With COVID-19. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(5):e2111398. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.11398