Men have been hit harder than women during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are several theories as to why. But is it possible testosterone plays a role?
Since researchers started tracking mortality data from the pandemic, they’ve repeatedly found that men are more likely to suffer a severe outcome. Generally speaking, this means they are more likely to die or require intensive treatment.
It may have something to do with general health. For example, looking at heart health, men are significantly more likely to suffer a heart attack than women. That said, women have a far higher risk of death from a heart attack than men.
A 2016 study found that 47% of women will die, suffer a stroke, or develop heart failure within five years of their first heart attack, compared to 36% of men. Men experience more heart attacks than women and they have them, on average, seven years earlier.
One theory suggests it could have something to do with lifestyle. Men may be more reckless and more likely to engage in potentially harmful behavior.
The same lifestyle approach could play into the gender disparity in COVID-19 outcomes.
New research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that women are far more likely to follow public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Further, women are more likely to view the pandemic as a severe health problem.
Men are less likely to wear masks, partake in social distancing measures, or practice recommended hygiene standards to reduce the risk. This could be the reason they’re more exposed to severe complications from the disease.
But why this approach? Is it testosterone-based? Does it have something to do with “toxic masculinity” or believed gender roles?
Although it’s difficult to prove, it certainly may. If this risky nonchalant behavior is affecting health in other ways, it’s likely to play a role in COVID-19 outcomes. If wearing a mask isn’t viewed as manly or as a sign of weakness, it is definitely a reflection of gender roles.
It’s hard to suggest testosterone plays a role. This is largely because data exists suggesting that older men seem the least likely to adhere to rules. This group is generally lower in testosterone than younger men.
Further, research exists to show that men with lower testosterone are more likely to have a fatal experience with COVID-19.
In any event, it’s wise for men to pay attention to the data and change their behavior surrounding COVID-19. Wearing masks and following other guidelines can slow the spread and reduce risk of contracting the illness.