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COVID-19

Study: Women undergoing hormone replacement therapy less likely to die from COVID-19

Researchers investigated combined oral contraception, which contains estrogen, because recent observational data suggests that women taking the pill have a lower risk of catching COVID-19.

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Women who are unwell and are about to take antibiotics.
(Oakland Images via Shutterstock)

By Stephen Beech via SWNS

Women undergoing hormone replacement therapy are more than a fifth less likely to die from COVID-19, according to a new study.

Researchers found that receiving HRT within six months of a recorded diagnosis of COVID-19 was associated with a reduced likelihood of dying from the virus.

Men and women are equally susceptible to COVID-19. However, men tend to have more severe infections, and have higher rates of both hospitalization and dying.

A recent review of sex differences in COVID-19, using figures from 38 countries, found mortality in men was 1.7 times higher than in women.

Younger women or those with higher estrogen levels are less likely to experience COVID-19 complications.

Earlier studies have also shown that women have faster and greater immune responses to viral infections. Researchers have observed similar data in previous pandemics, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) outbreaks.

Researchers say that the reason for the differences between men and women is uncertain.

Limited recent observational data suggest that oestrogen may reduce the severity of COVID-19.

The new study, published in the journal Family Practice, investigated the association between HRT or combined oral contraception use, and the likelihood of death in women with COVID-19.

Researchers investigated combined oral contraception, which contains estrogen, because some recent observational data suggests that women taking the pill have a lower risk of catching COVID-19.

The team looked at medical records from the Oxford-Royal College of General Practitioners Research and Surveillance Centre primary care database.

They identified a group of more than 1.8 million women over 18 from 465 general practices in England.

There were 5,451 COVID-19 cases within the group. HRT was associated with a 22 percent reduction in dying from COVID-19.

Study co-author Dr. Christopher Wilcox, of the University of Southampton, said: "This suggests that estrogen may well contribute a protective effect against COVID-19 severity.

"This may explain why fewer women compared to men have been hospitalized, admitted to intensive care, or died due to COVID-19 during the pandemic."

He added: “This study supports the theory that estrogen may offer some protection against severe COVID-19.

“We hope that this study can provide reassurance to patients and clinicians that there is no indication to stop hormone replacement therapy because of the pandemic.”

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