Menopausal women taking HRT may have increased protection from COVID-19

Published: 11th May 2020

Dr Louise Newson is working closely with NHS England and Professor Tim Spector’s team to assess the potential effects of oestrogen on reducing the severity and mortality from COVID-19. Many studies have shown that COVID-19 affects men more than women and we have also seen that, in women, the increased risk with age starts to become appreciable earlier than in men - this change appears to happen in the late 50s. We are currently taking a closer look to see whether this is related to the menopause.

The COVID Symptom Study is working to facilitate key research into the potential protective effects of hormonal therapies, like HRT or the pill, and COVID-19. Dr Newson and Professor Tim Spector recently recorded a webinar on oestrogen and COVID-19 which is available to view here. More than 3 million people in the UK have provided data via the COVID Symptom Study app, launched by researchers at King’s College London and health technology company ZOE. This is the largest group of participants contributing to COVID-19 research in the world. Unlike contact tracing apps, The COVID Symptom Study app focuses on gathering health data to advance research into understanding the disease and providing short and long-term clinical solutions for the Nation’s recovery. The COVID Symptom Study is an amazing resource that can answer a powerful question about the role of hormones in COVID-19 in a matter of days, which in turn can help the NHS save lives.

The COVID Symptom Study app has been updated to include specific questions about periods, hormone medications and menopause with the aim to better understand how hormones such as oestrogen might influence COVID-19 outcomes. The data will shed more light on the underlying reasons why there are sex-based differences in the response to coronavirus infection and the role of hormones in the disease as demonstrated in COVID Symptom Study data on hospitalisation.

Dr Newson is also collaborating with researchers at the University of Liverpool and a wider volunteer-force of around 600 front-line public health teams and researchers (CIPHA: Combined Intelligence for Public Health Action) looking at data from multiple sources to tackle COVID-19. Experts in infectious diseases, clinical pharmacology and public health are helping to explore the role of oestrogens in COVID-19 with data from COVID-19-specific apps, GP-record-access apps asking questions about COVID-19 symptoms and anonymised NHS data linked to COVID-19 monitoring systems such as ISARIC 4C. By understanding the differences between men, pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women in their risks of developing COVID-19 and suffering severe consequences – and how HRT and other medicines affect this – we hope to provide evidence for policy-makers and advance scientific understanding of sex hormones in infectious disease responses.

Dr Newson spoke to BBC News about her work with Zoe and The COVID Symptom Study. Watch the full interview here:

 

Click here to sign up to The COVID Symptom Study app


Newson Health Menopause and Wellbeing Centre was launched in 2018 by leading menopause specialist and GP, Dr Louise Newson. Created to help women receive the most appropriate, individualised and holistic treatment for their perimenopause and menopause, it has quickly become a centre of excellence, providing care to women of all ages, both via remote consultations and in-person at clinics in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire and Lymm, Cheshire.

A passionate and tireless campaigner for better menopause care for all women, Dr Newson has also founded the Menopause Doctor website, The Menopause Charity, the balance app, Newson Health Research and Education and written a best-selling Haynes Manual on Menopause.

The Menopause Doctor website is a free resource providing a huge amount of unbiased, evidence based information about the menopause and perimenopause for women and healthcare professionals. The site has been adopted by the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) as an official educational library for menopause. Visit www.menopausedoctor.co.uk.

The Menopause Charity was founded in 2020, with trustees including sustainable health expert Professor Matthew Cripps and media ambassadors Davina McCall, Lorraine Kelly, Liz Earle and Meg Mathews. The charity has many exciting plans to help women and their families and colleagues with the challenges caused by the menopause, including an educational website, professionally staffed helpline and fundraising for research activities. Visit www.themenopausecharity.org.

‘balance’ is a free app that was developed to enable women to track their symptoms, access personalised expert content, share stories and lots more. Get the balance app at www.balance-app.com.

Newson Health Research and Education is a not-for-profit organisation from which all profits are invested back into the business. A Confidence in Menopause educational platform has been developed specifically for healthcare professionals and can be found at https://www.fourteenfish.com/menopause/subscribe

The Haynes Manual on Menopause is a definitive guide to help women, their partners and families cut through the plethora of misinformation and take a straightforward look at menopause. Find out more at www.newsonhealth.co.uk/resources/menopause-manual.