Low Testosterone Associated With Severe COVID-19: What's Behind It?
By: Dr. Anne Truong
October 27, 2020
More than ever, men are taking steps to avoid getting the coronavirus. Those who have comorbidities or other health complications may be at a higher risk of developing more life-threatening conditions. COVID-19 is recognized as a full-body virus, one that impacts a wide range of systems including respiratory, neurological, gastrointestinal, and cardiovascular. Yet, new studies say testosterone may be a factor.
Mortality Rates Explained
A new study shows that some men in particular are at a higher risk of developing serious forms of COVID-19. The mortality rate is as low as 0.9 percent in people without other underlying health problems. It may be as high as 10.5 percent in those who have any number of comorbidities. There is evidence that it seems to impact men with more severity than women.
Why is this? It may be due to testosterone, the main male sex hormone. Testosterone levels in men drop between 0.8 to 2% each year after a male turns 40. As a person ages, this drop in testosterone leads to all types of more advanced health problems including COPD, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and others.
Testosterone’s Implication on Coronavirus
For men with low testosterone levels, there is an increased risk for developing more severe COVID-19 symptoms. Hospital data found that men who have a lower level of testosterone are more likely to be admitted to the hospital with this illness. They are also more likely to spend time in the intensive care unit, develop long-lasting complications from the disease, and even to die from it.
Could Supplementation Help You Avoid These Outcomes?
In a double-blind study, men were given testosterone replacement therapy. This is a supplementation of the natural hormone into the body over a specific period of time. This study found that men who had the replacement therapy saw improved oxygen consumption, especially in elderly patients who had chronic heart failure.
Very few studies fully explore the impact of testosterone on COVID-19 patients. Yet, this one showed some insight. It included 438 people with lab-confirmed COVID-19 in the hospital, of which 232 were male and about 45 years of age. Eleven men died from the condition while only seven women did. The study shows that COVID-19 may deteriorate serum testosterone levels in men – and that those men who have low levels of testosterone were more likely to have complications from coronavirus.
What Can Be Done to Minimize These Risks?
As you may know, there is a lot to learn about the coronavirus and while there is no fully effective manner of eliminating risks, we know that reducing comorbidity factors will help to improve a person’s chances of overcoming this condition. For that reason, if men have low testosterone now, getting a supplementation process in place now could be one step toward preventing complications from COVID-19.
Morbidity factors continue to change. Every day we learn a bit more about this disease. Yet, when we have a study like this with clear evidence indicating there is a risk, it’s important to take action. Supplementing testosterone may be a solid way of overcoming those challenges.