Women experiencing menopause and perimenopause may face increased risks and complications associated with long COVID, according to emerging research. The overlap of symptoms and potential hormonal disruptions have raised concerns among medical professionals. Understanding the relationship between menopause and long COVID is crucial for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Symptoms of Long COVID and Menopause

Long COVID can manifest in various symptoms, including extreme fatigue, cognitive issues (brain fog), rapid heartbeat and loss of smell and taste. Meanwhile, menopause symptoms encompass vaginal infections, irregular bleeding, urinary problems and sexual issues, among others.

Interestingly, some of their symptoms overlap, such as night sweats, depression or anxiety, decreased concentration, memory problems, joint and muscle pains, headaches and disrupted sleep, as pointed out by JoAnn V. Pinkerton, M.D., a professor of obstetrics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and executive director of the North American Menopause Society. Identifying the specific cause of these symptoms can be challenging due to their similarities.

Possible Impact on Menopause

Studies suggest that long COVID could worsen perimenopause and menopause symptoms due to temporary disruptions in hormonal production. Lower levels of estrogen and testosterone, commonly observed in menopause, might be affected by the virus, exacerbating symptoms. Chronic inflammation caused by long COVID can also lead to irregularities in the menstrual cycle, according to a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Patient-Led Research Collaborative/University of California, San Francisco.

Role of Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), particularly estradiol, has shown positive effects in combating COVID and managing menopause symptoms. Estradiol can address symptoms more aggressively in the context of long COVID. HRT, including estrogen-based therapies, can improve hot flashes, night sweats, sleep quality and mood during perimenopause.

Additional Strategies for Managing Long COVID during Menopause

In addition to HRT, other measures can aid women in coping with long COVID and menopause. Getting vaccinated against COVID and receiving boosters can prevent reinfection and potentially minimize postmenopausal issues. Prioritizing good nutrition, sufficient sleep, regular exercise, stress reduction, and moderate alcohol consumption can also contribute to better ovarian function during menopausal fluctuations, noted Pinkerton.

By understanding the connection between menopause and long COVID, women can provide their doctors with accurate information for proper diagnosis and receive appropriate treatment. Implementing self-care strategies alongside medical interventions can help alleviate symptoms and improve overall well-being.