fbpx

COVID-19 and Hormones: How do They Influence People's Health?

Coronavirus has influenced the increase and decrease of hormones in both men and women. This is the relationship between COVID-19 and hormones

Man touching his head

Photo: Freepik

LatinAmerican Post | Yolanda González

As many know, COVID-19 represents a type of infection associated with a systemic inflammatory response. With just over two years of pandemic, and the variants that have emerged along the way, there are more and more studies on how they affect our body. Precisely, hormones have not escaped this reality and depending on the increase or reduction of these, they generate certain consequences in both men and women.

In fact, if there is something to highlight during this time of pandemic, it is that there are some hormones capable of protecting women from the virus. They are estrogen and progesterone, female sex hormones that provide anti-inflammatory functions and remodel the competence of immune cells.

Research carried out by Professor Graziano Pinna concluded that hormones that help maintain pregnancy, such as progesterone or estradiol, are involved in restoring the immune system. Therefore, once women give birth there is a rapid drop in hormones that puts them at risk of contracting the disease.

Also read: The “opioid crisis” in Latin America is one of undertreatment and suffering

Even according to recent data from the CDC, in the United States, the mortality rate for pregnant women from COVID is 0.13% compared to 2% for non-pregnant women. In conclusion, those who are pregnant are less likely to contract or die from the virus.

Stress and hair loss, another consequence

Whether or not it is due to genetic inheritance, men and women suffer from hair loss year after year. However, in times of pandemic, stress has been much greater and therefore this problem has increased on a large scale, especially in women. According to UK beauty wholesalers and retailers, searches for and sales of hair loss treatments increased by up to 166% in 2021.

But how much does COVID-19 have to do with hair loss? Serious diseases such as Coronavirus cause telogen effluvium, a term used for reactive hair loss. This happens due to inflammation in the body due to stress or other reasons such as nutritional deficiencies. Although this occurs after between six and twelve weeks, with COVID the effect is almost immediate (between four and eight weeks), as explained for The Telegraph Anabel Kingsley, President of Philip Kingsley, a world authority on scalp and hair health.

In addition, it is worth mentioning that this inconvenience usually disappears once the person's health is restored, unless it is prolonged COVID and the inflammation persists. Finally, Kingsley assured that during the pandemic there was an increase in the reservation of patients' appointments to be able to treat themselves, especially in women who assured through social networks that their hair loss was related to the Coronavirus.

Low Testosterone and the Risks in Men

By now, it's no secret that men tend to get COVID-19 faster than women. A study conducted by the University of Washington asserted that a man's risk of contracting the virus was much higher if he had low testosterone, and even if those levels were further reduced during hospitalization, his health situation could worsen.

The research, conducted by Dr. Abhinav Diwan and his team, focused not only on measuring the level of testosterone, but also estradiol and the growth hormone IGF-1. As a consequence, there was no correlation between hormone levels and COVID-19 in women, but a link was seen with men and testosterone. In fact, patients with the lowest levels were the most likely to need intensive care or die.

Also, another point that the researchers took into account was the possible link between sex hormones and cardiac outcomes in prolonged COVID-19. Diwan assured that a possible testosterone therapy could benefit men who are in rehabilitation for the Coronavirus.

Can the COVID-19 vaccine affect a woman's menstrual cycle?

Common symptoms caused by the COVID vaccine range from fatigue and fever to aches and swelling. But there is also a high percentage of women who claim that they have suffered alterations in their menstrual cycle. That is, early or late menstruation, much heavier bleeding than usual, and even cycles that changed during the following months.

And it is that when analyzing the relationship between the menstrual cycle and vaccination against COVID-19, a study by Obstetrics & Gynecology revealed that changes in menstruation are temporary when compared to natural variations in the cycle. The data showed that 38% of the women who participated in the research reported a change in their menstruation in the periods prior to the vaccine, demonstrating the high variability of natural cycles. However, the percentage increased to 39% and 41% after the two respective doses had been applied.

In short, the most frequent change reported in the study after the vaccine was that the period was heavier than normal. With all that, the experts agree that it is necessary to continue carrying out tests to know for sure if these changes are really due to the vaccines or if, on the contrary, they are alterations that occur habitually among the population.