Recently a number of clients have been in touch after experiencing more severe Covid symptoms and a few have been diagnosed with Long Covid.
I noticed the majority tended to be peri-menopausal, transitioning through menopause, or highly active and therefore prone to lower levels of reproductive hormones generally.
A few other clients with menstrual cycles also mentioned observing changes in their menstrual cycle and experiencing more hormone-related symptoms after having Covid. Particularly in the days before the menstrual cycle when hormone levels are again at their lowest.
So it hasn’t surprised me that the research is slowly identifying an association between reproductive hormones and Covid 19.
It was a factor in my decision to get some additional support for my own symptoms via HRT.
Associations are also complicated by the fact that the symptoms of Long Covid can be similar to perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms; including headaches, brain fog, chronic fatigue, sleep disruption, and numerous inflammatory conditions flaring, joint, and skin issues are common.
Clients have been asking me whether this is a hormone issue or still Covid related?
The answer is likely both, because the reproductive hormones have an immune balancing effect, so two systems may be out of balance.
It has been established for some time that gender differences exist regarding susceptibility and immune responses to infectious diseases generally like HIV and hepatitis.
It’s hypothesised that estrogen may have some anti-viral capacity. As there are estrogen receptors on immune cells, it will influence the activity and lifespan of important players in the immune response.
Estrogen also modulates the production of inflammatory molecules known as cytokines, specifically one known as interleukin 6 which is involved in the Covid cytokine storm.
An early study in Wuhan observed women with low estrogen levels appear to have a more severe infection with COVID.
A review of health records of 70,000 patients from 17 countries observed women taking HRT were less likely to die from Covid.
Postmenopausal women and women in their early 50’s seem to be particularly vulnerable to Long Covid too.
Whilst most data is still only in observational stages (and therefore poor quality) there certainly are some indications that levels of reproductive hormones could alter an individual’s experience of Covid.
So what can you do?
Here are a few things to consider:
- It may be helpful to check in on your hormones with some blood tests and consider interventions that support them.
- Keep an eye on essential micronutrient levels like vitamin D, Iron, and B vitamins.
- If you’ve been battling inflammatory conditions for some time you may need more nutrients that aid repair of tissues like vitamin A, vitamin C, and zinc. Each of these also supports immune function.
- Eat sufficient protein, at least a serving at every meal, and fill the rest of your plate with nutritious food including whole grains, vegetables, herbs, and spices.
- Reproductive hormones are greatly affected by stress and any extremes in terms of work/life balance, exercise and dieting so assess if you need to make adjustments there.
If you’re currently battling multiple peri or menopause symptoms jump on our 21 Day Menopause Support Hub this September.
It’s an interactive event and your chance to obtain expert guidance and advice from a team of experts including a Newson Health Menopause GP, a medical herbalist, a vaginal health expert, and women’s health physio.
PLUS nutritionists and exercise professionals providing guidance on nutrition, supplements, weight loss, joint/bone health, and training through the menopause.
Spaces are limited, so be quick! There’s also an early bird offer ending soon, don’t miss out!
Alternatively, we can work together on a personal 1:1 basis. Find out full details here.
Whatever you do please don’t struggle alone with the symptoms, reach out for support as there are options for you.