Potential Influence of Menstrual Status and Sex Hormones on Female Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Infection: A Cross-sectional Multicenter Study in Wuhan, China

Clin Infect Dis. 2021 May 4;72(9):e240-e248. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa1022.


Background: Recent studies have indicated that females with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have a lower morbidity, severe case rate, and mortality and better outcome than those of male individuals. However, the reasons remained to be addressed.

Methods: To find the factors that potentially protect females from COVID-19, we recruited all confirmed patients hospitalized at 3 branches of Tongji Hospital (N = 1902), and analyzed the correlation between menstrual status (n = 509, including 68 from Mobile Cabin Hospital), female hormones (n = 78), and cytokines related to immunity and inflammation (n = 263), and the severity/clinical outcomes in female patients <60 years of age.

Results: Nonmenopausal female patients had milder severity and better outcome compared with age-matched men (P < .01 for both). Menopausal patients had longer hospitalization times than nonmenopausal patients (hazard ratio [HR], 1.91 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 1.06-3.46]; P = .033). Both anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) and estradiol (E2) showed a negative correlation with severity of infection (adjusted HR, 0.146 [95% CI, .026-.824], P = .029 and 0.304 [95% CI, .092-1.001], P = .05, respectively). E2 levels were negatively correlated with interleukin (IL) 2R, IL-6, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor alpha in the luteal phase (P = .033, P = .048, P = .054, and P = .023) and C3 in the follicular phase (P = .030).

Conclusions: Menopause is an independent risk factor for female COVID-19 patients. AMH and E2 are potential protective factors, negatively correlated with COVID-19 severity, among which E2 is attributed to its regulation of cytokines related to immunity and inflammation.

Keywords: E2; SARS-CoV-2; cross-sectional study; female hormones; menstrual status.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2*


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones