For most of the COVID pandemic it has been recognised that women were at a lower risk from serious illness with COVID19 than their male counterparts. This is thought to be due to oestrogen, the female sex hormone, which has anti inflammatory properties and offers vascular protection. Areas that are particularly vulnerable with COVID19 infection.
However, it has been further identified that women below the age of 50 are more likely to suffer from Long COVID symptoms.
Could this be that many women of 50+ are taking HRT thereby maintaining oestrogen levels at a normal pre menopausal level? On the other hand many women in their 40’s are experiencing declining oestrogen levels and symptoms but may not have yet started HRT.
See our article on Why to start HRT before the menopause
Many symptoms of Long COVID overlap with those experienced during peri-menopause and menopause. Fatigue, muscle aches, palpitations, brain fog, sleep disturbance are very common complaints of the perimenopausal decline in oestrogen as well as recognised Long COVID symptoms. Currently there is little or no treatment for Long COVID whereas symptoms caused by perimenopause and menopause are very simply and safely relieved with HRT. It would be a disaster if women were not offered simple HRT to address symptoms as they were mistaken for Long COVID.
Many women start to experience perimenopausal symptoms upto eight years prior to the menopause and the average age of the menopause is 51. Additionally untreated menopause symptoms can last a further 12 years. That could mean 20 years plus of symptoms related to oestrogen and testosterone defficiency. See here for relevant symptoms.
The Lancet report in December 2021 is urging for enhanced training for clinicians in Long Covid clinics to enable them to consider and diagnose perimenopause and menopause alongside Long Covid and to treat accordingly with HRT which can relieve symptoms and additionally provide long term protection against cardiovascular disease, dementia, osteoporosis, diabetes and obesity.
Treating perimenopause and menopause symptoms as though they are Long Covid is depriving many women of not only relief from their symptoms but also the longer term protection that is available when taking HRT against cardiovascular disease, dementia, osteoporosis, diabetes and obesity.
Furthermore it can lead to women with perimenopause and menopause symptoms being misdiagnosed with Long COVID.
Briefly put if you are deficient in Oestrogen with declining levels due to perimenopause/menopause and not taking HRT you are at greater risk of being diagnosed with Long Covid