For Men, Low Testosterone Means High Risk of Severe COVID-19

For Men, Low Testosterone Means High Risk of Severe COVID-19


Another important reason to know your testosterone levels: COVID-19!

If loss of muscle, decreased sexual drive and function, fatigue, excess body fat and poor sleep weren’t enough, we can now add diminished immune function as a symptom of low T.

According to a new study from researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, low testosterone levels in men are associated with more severe COVID-19 symptoms, offering a clue about why men with the virus seem to fare worse than women with the virus.

But, before digging into the details of the study: the main point I want you to know (which I have shared with men over the past 20 years) is that low testosterone is like a dashboard warning light in your car. Keep ignoring it and somethings going to blow!

And based my experience working with thousands of men to help them optimize hormonal health, there are 8 common reasons for an imbalance of a man's hormones:

1. Environmental toxins (Pollutants, pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol)

2. Metabolic/glucose dysfunction (Excess body fat, poor glucose control)

3. Viral immune dysfunction (Post infection, Covid, etc.)

4. Adrenal or thyroid issues

5. Nutritional deficiencies (Vitamin D3, omega 3, zinc, magnesium, boron)

6. Excessive physical and mental stress (Overtraining, lack of sleep)

7. Lack of life purpose or challenge

8. Cellular aging (Not just age or just getting older)

Okay, now let's take a closer look at the research!

While men account for less than half of all COVID-19 cases in the US (47.8 percent) according to the CDC, they make up 54.2 percent of COVID-19 deaths. In other countries, the disparity is much starker—men represent 73 percent and 70 percent of fatalities in China and Italy respectively, according to one paper. 

Scientists have been questioning the role of sex hormones, specifically testosterone, in COVID-19 severity since quite early on in the pandemic. Men tend to produce much more testosterone than women, so the sex hormone seemed like a prime candidate for scrutiny. As early as May 2020, researchers in both Germany and Italy published studies about the link between low testosterone in men and more adverse reactions to SARS-CoV-2. A month later, scientists writing in the journal Critical Care called for low testosterone screening in men as a way to detect high-risk patients.

A new study takes further steps to elucidate this connection. While previous papers looked retroactively at individuals with COVID-19 and observed the low testosterone correlation, scientists in this new study followed 90 male and 62 female patients as their disease progressed, and made note of their hormone levels as they went. In women, none of the hormones measured correlated in any way to COVID-19 severity. 

Men admitted to the hospital with severe COVID-19, however, had very low testosterone—52 nanograms per deciliter (testosterone below 250 nanograms per deciliter is considered low in an adult male). Men with less severe COVID-19 had an average of 151 nanograms per deciliter. All men saw their testosterone levels go down as their disease progressed. By the third day after hospital admission, blood testosterone in the severe cohort had dropped to an average of just 19 nanograms per deciliter. The findings were published in JAMA Network Open.

The study authors also analyzed the cells in the patients’ blood. They observed that, in men with low testosterone, their immune cells boosted the genes responsible for responding to sex hormones, essentially making the immune system more sensitive to the hormones that were still circulating. Researchers think that this may be the body’s way of adapting to having less testosterone available, by increasing the immune cells’ ability to make the best use of the testosterone around. 

Want to check your testosterone quickly, easily, and cost effectively from the comfort of your own home?

Then check out our new male hormonal health assessment on!

In good health,

Dr. Cohen

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