A study published in the peer-reviewed journal The Aging Male found men who suffered from COVID-19 had significantly decreased levels of testosterone.
A team of Turkish researchers investigated the effect of testosterone levels in men on the prognosis of COVID-19. The study recruited 221 male patients hospitalized due to the disease. Laboratory testing confirmed the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in patients.
The participants were then divided into three groups: asymptomatic patients, symptomatic patients hospitalized in the internal medicine unit (IMU), and patients hospitalized in the intensive care unit (ICU).
COVID-19 Caused Significant Drop in Testosterone Levels of Men
The level of testosterone was inversely proportional to the severity of the disease. Researchers discovered as the total levels decreased in patients, the severity of COVID-19 increased.
Additionally, 51% of the patients suffered from hypogonadism. Of the 11 patients that died, 90% had significantly low levels of the hormone.
The Male Sex Hormone
Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men. It plays a key role in male reproductive and sexual development.
Furthermore, the hormone affects bone mass, muscle mass and strength, fat distribution, and production of red blood cells in males.
Hypogonadism is a condition in which the male reproductive organs are unable to produce sufficient levels of testosterone. That is levels below 300 ng/dl. After the age of 40, levels of the hormone typically fall by 0.8-2% per year.
Low levels of testosterone increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, respiratory infections, and mortality in men. Studies propose that infection may deteriorate testosterone levels in men.
Men are Twice as Likely to Die from COVID-19
Research has shown mortality rates from COVID-19 are higher in men than women. Additionally, men suffer from a more severe case of the infection.
The findings of the study suggest low testosterone levels could play a key role in the high mortality rates and severity of COVID-19 in men.
However, the study has many limitations.
The researchers failed to include a control group in the study. Furthermore, they did not investigate any underlying chronic diseases in the participants. Thus, failing to account for other causes of low testosterone levels.
In conclusion, no causal relationship between the prognosis of COVID-19 in men and low levels of testosterone has been established.
Selahittin Çayan, Mustafa Uğuz, Barış Saylam & Erdem Akbay (2020): Effect of serum total testosterone and its relationship with other laboratory parameters on the prognosis of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in SARS-CoV-2 infected male patients: a cohort study, The Aging Male, DOI: 10.1080/13685538.2020.1807930
O’driscoll, Megan, et al. “Age-Specific Mortality and Immunity Patterns of SARS-CoV-2 Infection in 45 Countries.” 2020, doi:10.1101/2020.08.24.20180851.