Influence of Sex Hormones on Long COVID

July 28, 2021

Recent scientific discussion has correlated Long Covid with estrogen-associated autoimmune disease

There has yet to be a consensus on the definition of “Long Covid.” That being said, it is widely acknowledged that Long Covid symptoms, including shortness of breath, persistent fatigue, brain fog, and GI disturbances, typically last more than 2 months after a COVID-19 infection. “Women appear to be twice as likely to develop Long Covid as men, but only until around age 60, when the risk level becomes similar.”

The authors of this article agree with the hypothesis that Long Covid from a SARS-CoV-2 infection can trigger an autoimmune reaction, “perhaps due to molecular mimicry with some components of our body… the autoimmune hypothesis could justify the higher incidence of this syndrome in women.” Read more about the autoimmune connection to COVID-19 here.

The authors also point out the immune response for genetic and hormonal factors are a “double-edged sword:” men account for higher rates of acute COVID-19 compared to women, whereas autoimmune reactions are more prevalent in women overall.

Specifically targeted research is necessary to better understand this connection, and can start with studying the specificity of autoantibodies in patient serum to create sex-specific treatments for Long Covid. Moreover, studying larger cohorts of Long Covid patients will enable researchers to identify trends within symptoms between the sexes.