My Story: HRT and Long Covid
Here we share an account from a woman who has been experiencing Long Covid. She describes how her untreated perimenopausal symptoms significantly worsened after having Covid-19. Her story offers hope to the many women diagnosed with Long Covid who are in their 40s and 50s, and the remarkable benefits made possible by HRT.
“I started taking HRT in January 2021, after a 9-month battle with Long Covid symptoms following my Covid-19 experience in March 2020. I’m 48 now and had already been experiencing worsening perimenopause symptoms since my mid 40’s. I had been turned away by various GPs in the last few years regarding these symptoms, stating I was ‘too young’ and had regular periods so couldn’t be perimenopausal.
“Almost instantly my perimenopausal symptoms of anxiety and depression went away. I started sleeping better, with no night-time waking. My regular hormonal migraines stopped, I didn’t need to go to the loo all the time and my mood is more stable throughout the month. My memory has improved along with my ability to multi-task, my desire for sex has come back and the pre-period skin itching I would get has stopped. My aching hips and knees no longer ache and relationships with my family have greatly improved. Basically, I can cope with life again.
“With regards, to my Long Covid Symptoms it is hard to separate all the improvements as a lot of the symptoms cross over, but I feel it is important to note that I had a significant worsening of my perimenopause symptoms since getting Covid-19 and had a significant improvement in them since starting HRT. I also had a continuing tightness in my chest which has seen an improvement over the last few months.
“My energy levels have steadily improved since January, along with my brain fog, ability to focus and my capacity to exercise without experiencing ‘post-exertional malaise’. I now regularly swim 1 km in the sea, and go running, as well as just being able to go about my normal day. I can have a long, busy day and not need to sleep the next day. Before starting HRT in January, I was slowly recovering and doing more in little increments, but I still had to be VERY careful with exercise and needed to rest a lot. My husband works away in the film industry, and I was unable to cope with the demands of looking after my two children for days on my own. He was turning down work to give me time to rest in between his jobs.
“While I was improving very slowly physically, over the months since May 2020, my brain fog and ability to focus did not improve until I started taking HRT. The testosterone has in my mind been the key in these particular improvements. I believe this because the oestrogen had an immediate effect on many symptoms but I have seen a more gradual improvement in my brain fog, tiredness, energy levels, stamina and ability to exercise. This started about three months after starting HRT and has continued to improve to date.
“I have been left with a long term lung condition (mild bronchiectasis) which I need to take a steroid inhaler for daily, but otherwise I consider myself to have made a complete recovery from my Long Covid symptoms.
“This complete recovery did not happen until I started taking HRT.”
Thousands of women who are diagnosed with Long Covid may not be aware that their hormones could also be responsible for their symptoms. Healthcare professionals are not asking the questions to find out if their periods have changed or if they are getting other hormone related symptoms and making a dual diagnosis of Long Covid and peri/menopause. This means these women are not getting treatment that could really improve their symptoms and bring some return to a normal life again. More research is desperately needed to understand about Long Covid and the role of estrogen and testosterone.
The balance menopause support app is being used by some multidisciplinary teams in their Long Covid clinics as part of the treatment pathway, to help identify which patients are experiencing other symptoms associated with the perimenopause and menopause, as well as their Long Covid symptoms, to help inform management plans.