Do Coronavirus differentiate between Males and Females?


Since the beginning of the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, scientists have noticed that the severe symptoms of the disease are more common in men than women, even the death rates are higher. Accordingly, they have conducted a number of scientific studies in an attempt to understand how the female hormones and the severity of the COVID-19 symptoms are related. Female hormones include estrogen, progesterone, and some testosterone, or what is known as the male hormone; in this article, we will tackle the estrogen and progesterone hormones only.

Estrogen reduces the severity of COVID-19 symptoms

In August 2020, a scientific study concluded that the estrogen hormone may reduce the severity of the symptoms of COVID-19 in women.

The study was conducted by a group of scientists at Wake Forest School of Medicine where they reviewed the published preclinical data on the activity of gender-specific hormones, particularly estrogen. They attributed the reason behind this to the fact that estrogen lowers the level of the converting enzyme of angiotensin "ACE2" in the heart, which is the enzyme associated with the membranes of the cardiac cells and arteries, and it is also the cellular receptor of the Coronavirus.

Since estrogen lowers the level of this enzyme in the heart, it reduces the severity of the symptoms of COVID-19 disease in women, while the symptoms worsen in men due to their low levels of estrogen.

Progestrone also reduces the symptoms of the disease

In November 2020, a research paper was published showing that female reproductive steroids play a protective role. Scientists showed interest in this matter when some reports showed that the condition of pregnant women who were infected with Coronavirus with mild symptoms deteriorated after giving birth immediately, to the extent of needing intensive care.

Scientists linked this deterioration to the drop in the levels of progesterone to their lowest levels after giving birth; after it had been 100 times higher than the normal in the last trimester of pregnancy. Moreover, it was found that pregnant women are 15% less likely to die from COVID-19 in comparison to other women, and this is due to female hormones, especially progesterone. Progesterone helps reduce severe inflammation, where it protects the body from the overexpression of the cytokines causing inflammation.

Women are not all Equal

Although female hormones help women fight the Coronavirus, according to the report published by the University of Florida in February 2021, not all women have the same degree of protection and resistance against the virus.

The report found that post-menopausal women and women who have just given birth are more likely to be infected with COVID-19 due to the decrease in the levels of estrogen and progesterone hormones. Moreover, women who suffer from polycystic ovaries syndrome are more likely to develop complications from the disease because they are more prone to develop heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes.

Given the role of female hormones in resisting the symptoms of COVID-19, is it possible to resort to receiving hormonal replacement therapy as a treatment in some cases? Actually, clinical research is currently performed to evaluate the case of some patients who are receiving doses of the progesterone hormone to improve their resistance to the virus. However, until now, there are no proposals to use hormonal drugs that contain estrogen and progesterone in the protocols fighting COVID-19, despite the recent study conducted at the Royal College of Oxford that showed that women who receive any form of hormonal replacement treatment were 78% less likely to die from COVID-19.


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