Men have been prone to more severe disease and death than women during the pandemic.
In a small pilot safety study, 42 men received either injections of the female hormone progesterone under the skin twice a day plus usual care, or usual care alone, to see if the female hormone might dampen the cascade of inflammation that leads to severe lung injury in Covid-19.
No adverse side effects were reported, and overall clinical status improved to a greater extent in the men who received progesterone.
Men treated with progesterone required 3 fewer days of supplemental oxygen and were hospitalized for 2.5 fewer days compared to men who did not receive the female hormone, although these differences did not reach statistical significance.
"This proof of concept pilot trial showed very encouraging outcome data, suggesting that administration of progesterone ... may represent a safe and effective approach to treatment of Covid-19" in men with moderate-to-severe illness, researchers said in a report published on Saturday in the journal Chest.