Research recently conducted connects diminished blood concentrations of testosterone in men with more severe presentations of COVID-19.
This data completely debunks popularly brandished myths and presumptions suggesting that higher testosterone levels explained why men stood at greater risk of developing severer cases of the illness than their female counterparts.
That said, as the pandemic has progressed, data put forth by healthcare providers has concluded that men seem to develop worse cases than women.
What was the hypothesis?
One initial theory supporting the hypothesis that hormonal differences seen in the genders might make men more vulnerable to the pathogen’s most serious impacts. Researchers continued to suggest that testosterone correlates with aggressive behavior, as men’s bodies contain much more testosterone than women. Early speculation centered around such factoids being the reason men seemed to fare worse.
However, newer findings might suggest that, in actuality, the opposite is true. That said, this research didn’t provide any data unequivocally linking low T levels to serious cases of the COVID-19. Researchers emphasize that such outcomes could be related to other underlying factors.
That said, these same medical professionals strongly caution the efficacy and safety of clinical trials of drugs used to lower testosterone or heighten estrogen levels as therapeutic protocols for men diagnosed with COVID-19.
In a fresh study “Association of Circulating Sex Hormones With Inflammation and Disease Severity in Patients With COVID-19”, doctor Abhinav Diwan, who also serves as a professor of medicine at Saint Louis’s Washington University School of Medicine, said that the pandemic has created a prevailing belief amongst medical community members that testosterone fuels COVID’s fire.
The physician continued that the reality is quite the opposite. On average, men who possessed diminished systemic concentrations of testosterone upon entering the hospital actually had a higher risk of developing severe COVID-related manifestations or even death than men with higher internal levels of the hormone.
Moreover, researchers found that, if men with already low testosterone levels experienced further systemic declines, their risk for significant complications rose even greater.
Are women affected as well?
Study overseers examined the blood samples of 90 men and 62 women who visited the Barnes-Jewish Hospital presenting with confirmed cases. Of the 143 patients ultimately admitted, researchers again sampled their blood after 3, 7, 14, and 28 days. In addition to testosterone, researchers measured systemic levels of several other notable hormones.
Examiners found that, in women, no appreciable links between hormonal levels and disease severity could be found. Amongst men, no other substances but testosterone revealed any notable findings.
Blood concentrations of testosterone are considered low if the numbers fall below 250 nanograms per deciliter. At admission, men with serious COVID-19 presentations averaged readings of 53 nanograms per deciliter. However, men with milder cases averaged 153 nanograms per deciliter.
Moreover, the results produced by the sickest subjects continued to decline as time progressed. By their third day in the hospital, readings dropped to an average of 19 nanograms per deciliter.
Other factors associated with low T
Researchers emphasize that other factors are known to induce more severe illness. Such as high blood pressure, diabetes, older age, and obesity are also connected to low testosterone.
Also, they discovered that men with low T who were not terribly ill at first were more likely to require placement in intensive care or intubation in the immediate days that followed.
Such data, inspired endocrinologist and study author, Dr. Sandeep Dhindsa to confidently opine that lower T levels seemed to be a significant predicting factor in which patients would grow significantly ill.
Additionally, this team of researchers is examining if these findings might suggest links between reproductive hormones and post-Covid cardiovascular concerns. Diwan, who is a cardiologist by trade, opined that when symptoms lingered on for months after initial infection, such issues could arise.
The doctor also stated that men stricken with severe cases or lingering manifestations might benefit from testosterone therapy. For some time, this therapeutic protocol has been employed as a treatment for men coping with low T levels and experiencing the physical and emotional symptoms of said occurrence.
The study was conducted in collaboration with Washington University’s biorepository and the academic institution’s Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences.