New research is being conducted to see if women on HRT may have extra protection when it comes to Covid-19. It’s the subject of study being done by menopause specialist Dr Louise Newson and Professor Tim Spector, as part of the Covid Symptom Study, the world’s largest citizen science project.
MPowered Women’s founder Saska Graville writes about their work in today’s Daily Telegraph, speaking to Dr Newson about the groundbreaking project.
“We’ve had several women who experienced less severe symptoms of Covid-19 than their male partners,” says Dr Newson, of her patients at the Newson Health Menopause and Wellbeing Centre in Stratford upon Avon. “I’m wondering if a woman’s immune system when she is taking HRT is so good that it just deals with this virus more effectively.”
Dr Newson’s thinking is backed up by existing medical knowledge that oestrogen helps the immune system. “We already know that oestrogen has a beneficial effect on the immune system,” says Dr Newson. “Oestrogen receptors are on every cell in a woman’s body and this hormone affects how the cells respond and how they fight infections. It means women fight viruses better than men.”
Good news for HRT
At MPowered Women, we are on a mission to raise awareness of the facts of HRT, and not the scaremongering fictions. If this research sheds a positive light on the powerful effects of oestrogen against Covid-19, then that is good news. To see oestrogen and HRT being written about for their beneficial effects, rather than the usual “breast cancer scare” headlines, makes a positive change.
Dr Stephanie Goodwin, a GP and menopause expert agrees. Along with Dr Newson, she is one of MPowered Women’s medical advisors, and is a passionate advocate of HRT awareness. She has also had Covid-19 herself.
“As a woman on HRT, my own Covid-19 experience was very mild,” she says. “I was certainly very happy with my immune response. If that is due to the oestrogen in my HRT, then that can only be a good thing.”
Time and again at MPowered Women’s events, where we bring together medical experts and groups of midlife women, we see the scale of misinformation and misunderstanding about HRT. Commonly asked questions include, “will taking HRT delay menopause?”, “can I take HRT if I’m still having regular periods?” and, always, “will HRT give me breast cancer?”.
There is a long way to go before all women understand exactly what is going on in their body in the menopause years, and what they can do to help their systems.
If women who were previously reluctant to go the HRT route, are encouraged to discuss it with their GP as a result of this new research, then that is positive. “Too many women are put off taking HRT because of lack of knowledge and unfounded fears,” says Dr Goodwin. “The benefits of HRT far outweigh the risks. If the research being done can show that oestrogen helps with immunity against Covid-19, then that will be positive news for menopausal women.”