A growing body of evidence shows that hormone replacement therapy effectively helps women find better health as they age. The North American Menopause Society, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, and The Endocrine Society, “take the position that most healthy, recently menopausal women can use hormone therapy for relief of their symptoms.” While some risk still exists for any medical treatment, HRT is considered very safe.
No matter how low the risk may generally be, we are at a unique time in humanity. Covid19 has changed the way one lives. We aren’t just worried about staying healthy while flying; we worry about staying healthy while buying groceries. So, while medical advancement can make our lives better, elective medical procedures now offer an entirely new risk vector.
Is now a good time for women to start hormone replacement therapy? Well, a preprint study led by King’s College London suggests that post-menopausal women have a higher predictive rate of COVID-19 than other studied women.
The above findings are in line with previous research that analyzed sex-stratified Covid19 data found males and post-menopausal women were at a higher risk of death and severe infection. Still, the biological underpinnings of this were less clear at the time.
Researchers now hypothesize that the greater risk for post-menopausal women and men is lower estrogen levels. Estrogen interacts with the immune system in various ways, influencing the number of immune cells produced by the body. Further studies of SARS-CoV & MERS suggest lower estriol & estradiol levels may explain why men are at a higher risk of acute infection at any age than women.
Additionally, menopause leads to a higher risk of co-morbidities for Covid19, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The increased risks for these conditions are due in part to the loss of estrogen’s protective effects.
The King’s College London study found that hormone replacement therapy in post-menopausal women ages 50-65 is associated with a lower hospitalization rate from Covid19 but a slightly increased risk of contracting Covid19. The researchers advise HRT data be considered with caution due to the lack of information about HRT type, administration frequency, and treatment duration.
Even with some missing information regarding treatment protocols, the HRT for data post-menopausal women shows the possibility of benefits that outweighs the risks. Besides the health advantages of a standard HRT protocol, the probability of reducing the severity of Covid19 can make hormone replacement therapy alluring.
Logically speaking, some forms of HRT should present a lower risk of contracting Covid19 than others. For example, Using hormone pellets instead of oral, injectable, or transdermal options will reduce both hormone spikes and visits to your provider. With fewer doctors, visits should follow a decrease in the possibility of contracting Covid19.
The decision for women to use HRT is ultimately between themselves and their doctors. Individual risk factors are varied, both regarding hormone therapy and the risk of contracting any disease. And many other options exist to help keep your immune system healthy to lower your risk for Covid19.