Officially, men are 2.4 times more likely to die due to Covid-19 compared to women which may result from a complex interplay, behavioral, psychosocial and biological factors. As a matter of fact, men tend to engage in higher risk habits such as excessive consumption of tobacco and alcohol. Men are also known to follow social distancing, hand-washing, wearing masks, at a lower rate. With higher incidences of health conditions associated with poor Covid-19 outcomes, men are less likely to seek medical help as well!
Covid-19 Outcomes In Men Improved With Progesterone?
Immune Sex Differences:
Females mount stronger immune responses than males, which possibly is true due to the sex chromosome genes and sex hormones such as progesterone. Various immune cell types express progesterone receptors which are possible to inhibit inflammation in premenopausal females.
Just to make it clear, progesterone is a ovaries-produced hormone in females and the adrenal gland and testosterone in males. It has been researched that premenopausal females had to spend not a lot of time in the hospital, less likely to need respiratory help, after being diagnosed with Covid-19, compared to postmenopausal females.
Currently, US has an approval for Progesterone to treat infertility, absence of menses or amenorrhea and abnormal uterine bleeding. In a recent study as well, mice were injected with influenza A and as a result scientists witnessed less lung inflammation and quick recovery after treating animals with progesterone.
This particular result promoted researchers to hold a randomized controlled pilot trial at Cedars Senai Medical Center to experience the effectiveness and safety of progesterone in men hospitalized after being diagnosed with Covid-19.
Between the dates April 27th and August 5th, 2020, 42 men were enrolled in the age group of 18 or older with moderate to severe Covid-19 conditions with less oxygen levels. The researchers split the participants into two groups, experimental and the control group. They injected the progesterone in the experimental group, under the skin, twice daily, for 5 days and standard medical care and gave the control group routine medical care, alone.
The researchers assessed participants each day for 15 days straight or until the participants were discharged. A follow-up was done through phone calls. As for the participants in the control group, who’s health conditions weren’t improving by the 7th day, the researchers were allowed to give them progesterone.
The study done by scientists, analyzed the results from 18 participants in the progesterone group and 22 participants in the control group, with two backing down from the trials. Progesterone was injected in 9 participants in the control group as their health conditions weren’t improving any better and as a matter of fact, worsening . As a result, participants in the progesterone group scored 1.5 points better than the control group on the clinical status scale after 7 days.
The difference between the two groups weren’t statistically significant as the participants in the progesterone group required a 3 fewer days of oxygen supply and 2.5 days of hospitalization compared to the control group participants.
No report of any serious or severe events or risk of increased blood clots were found, attributed to progesterone. To add on, most of the participants were either white or hispanic and held existing health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, which are considered as high risk factors for attaining Covid-19 disease.
Dr. Ghandehari speaks on the study stating how the results need an additional investigation- “Indeed, further investigation is required in larger, more heterogeneous population, including postmenopausal women as well as in other medical centers. The study clearly needs a revision to establish a degree of clinical efficacy and to analyze, if there may be, any potential safety concerns towards this treatment approach.”