With the outbreak of COVID-19, more cases were reported in men than women. For this, Male sex hormones, androgen, and testosterone were hypothesized to play the potential role in the severity of Covid-19 symptoms in men. Various studies have been reported favoring this hypothesis.
According to scientists, this occurs due to male-specific factors that increase their vulnerability to the Covid-19 infection in comparison to women.
Based on these studies, it seems credible that a hormonal difference in androgen and testosterone levels in men plays a pivotal role in the COVID-19 severity.
However, to date, the evidence has been mixed, with a few studies supporting the concept that high androgen levels worsened symptoms. While a few studies suggest that low testosterone levels cause more severe outcomes.
Testosterone, a male sex hormone is secreted mainly from testicles and to a lesser extent from the adrenal cortex situated on the top of kidneys. The main function of Testosterone is to regulate bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass, strength, red blood cells, sperm, mood swings, irritability, and sex drive in men.
It is also known to be secreted from ovaries in females but in negligible amounts. On average, men secrete 300-1000 ng/dL and women secrete 15-70 ng/dL of Testosterone which is approximately 20 times more than women.
Speaking of its role in Covid-19 infection, a recent study conducted on 723 men with a history of COVID-19 in 2 large academic health systems in St Louis, Missouri, between January 2017 and December 2021, indicated that men with a low level of testosterone are more likely to hospitalize with severe symptoms as compared to men with normal levels of testosterone.5
This research diagnosed 427 men with normal testosterone levels, 116 with low levels, and 180 who previously had low levels but attained normal levels after being treated successfully with hormone replacement therapy, and their Testosterone levels were in the normal range by the time they developed COVID-19.
Low Testosterone turned out to be a risk factor for hospitalization for COVID, and treatment with hormone replacement therapy helped to nullify that risk.
The risk factor of severity is high when the levels of Testosterone are below 200 ng/dL. Testosterone replacement therapy is required to retain normal levels and the quality of life that is associated with normal levels of testosterone.
Besides, it is observed that in men above 40, testosterone levels decrease by 2% per year on average. The level was further reported to reduce due to cardiovascular disorders. In fact, testosterone deficiency (hypogonadism) is an independent risk factor for cardio-metabolic disturbances, including hypertension, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes mellitus, coronary artery disease, and bleeding disorder during which the body’s response to clot blood during injuries fails.1
This weakens the immune response of patients with low Testosterone levels and makes them more susceptible to infections that can be fatal.
Protective Role of Testosterone During Covid-19
- One study illustrates that Testosterone has a protective role in the respiratory system. It improves breathing capacity, oxygen consumption, and respiratory muscle contraction in the lungs.2Therefore, the low levels of testosterone in patients with hypogonadism may increase the severity of obstructive pulmonary disease during covid-19.
- Normal Testosterone levels in males reduce the release of certain chemicals called cytokines, which are responsible for respiratory dysfunctioning as well as multi-organ damage due to the severity of COVID-19.3
- Testosterone also helps boost immunity and anti-inflammatory responses in the body during infection.
- Normal Testosterone levels also reduce the free-radical imbalance in the body.
Not only do Testosterone levels control Covid-19 severity. But, Covid-19 can also affect Testosterone levels. According to a study, Covid-19 can also affect the testicles, cause infertility and suppress Testosterone levels.4So the relation between Covid-19 with Testosterone levels in men is mutual.
Here are 8 Effective ways that can help you retain normal Testosterone levels in your body:
1. Exercise & weight lift
Exercise can not only effectively control many chronic illnesses, but it can also boost your Testosterone levels.
2. Have a Well-balanced Diet
A well-balanced nutritious meal with appropriate portions of carbs, protein, and fat can also retain Testosterone levels.
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3. Minimize your stress levels
Increased stress levels in the body not only imbalance your food intake and body weight, but also increases cortisol levels which further reduces Testosterone levels in men.
4. Include Vitamin D Supplementation or Sunlight
Low testosterone levels are associated with low levels of vitamin D. However, adequate sunlight or Vit D supplementation can improve testosterone levels and improve erectile dysfunction in men.
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5. Include Zinc Supplements
Zinc supplements also work for men with low Testosterone levels and infertility issues. The average daily requirement of Zinc in men is 11 mg which can be satisfied with multivitamins containing Zinc.
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6. Improve your quality of sleep
Balancing adequate sleep with diet and exercise can also increase Testosterone levels in men.
7. Lessen your alcohol intake
Heavy alcohol consumption can also reduce testosterone levels. So it’s important to watch your alcohol intake to retain adequate Testosterone levels.
8. Consider these Ayurvedic supplements
Ayurvedic supplements including ashwagandha, ginger, and saw palmetto can also resolve infertility issues and increase Testosterone levels in men.
Testosterone levels normally tend to decline with age. Also, low levels of testosterone are an independent risk factor for weaken immunity, cardiovascular problems, hypertension, dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and coronary artery disease. Therefore it’s a huge risk factor for obstructive pulmonary disease specifically in combination with Covid-19.
However, a few dietary and lifestyle modifications can help you retain normal levels of testosterone and strengthen your immunity against Covid-19.