Know the basics
What is hirsutism?
Hirsutism refers to the overgrowth of hair on the face and body in women. Thick, dark hair grows in areas where men have hair such as upper lip, chin and sideburns.
How common is hirsutism?
Hirsutism is very common; 5% to 10% of women develop hirsutism. It’s usually not dangerous or harmful, but can affect women’s appearance. Increased body hair is also normal in Caucasian women of Mediterranean origin. Most women do not need medical care. Therapy may improve hirsutism, but it may take months to work. It is impossible to prevent hirsutism.
Know the symptoms
What are the symptoms of hirsutism?
Hair develops on the face (as a beard or mustache) and body specifically the upper lip, chin, sideburns, upper back, neck, chest, thighs, belly and around the nipples. Hair becomes thick and dark. Women may also have problem with period, with fertility and have acne.
When hirsutism is caused by excess male hormone called androgen, virilization process may develop, causing the following symptoms: deepening voice, balding, decrease in breast size, enlargement of the clitoris, muscle development, changes in sexual desire or infertility.
There may be some signs or symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
Know the causes
What causes hirsutism?
The main cause of hirsutism is the overproduction of male sex hormones (called androgen). Normally, a woman’s body produces a very small amount of androgens in their ovaries and adrenal glands. Problem in these organs can lead to excess hormone being made. Cretai endocrine disorder (e.g Crushing’s syndrome, acromegaly) may cause hair to grow. Tumors in adrenal glands or ovaries may also cause hair to grow. Tumor in adrenal glands or ovaries may also cause high hormone levels. Other less serious disorders of these organs, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), can also lead to hirsutism.
Other sources of androgens are medicines, including steroids, phenytoin, diazoxide, cycloporine, and minoxidil.
Some women have idiopathic hirsutism meaning that the cause is unknown.
Know the risk factors
What increases my risk for hirsutism?
Certain factors may increase your risk of developing Mitral stenosis:
- Family history. Several conditions that cause hirsutism, including congenital adrenal hyperplasia and polycystic ovary syndrome, can run in families.
- Certain diseases can cause hirsutism, including congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and polycystic ovarian syndrome,
- Ancestry. Women of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and South Asian ancestry are more likely to develop hirsutism with no identifiable cause than are other women.
Not having risk factors does not mean you will not get hamstring strians. These factors are for reference only. You should consult your doctor for more details.
Understand the diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is hirsutism diagnosed?
The doctor will do a physical examination and take blood and urine samples to measure levels of the androgens called testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS). The doctor may order computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to check organs that may be the cause.
How is hirsutism treated?
Treatment mainly depends on the cause. In some cases that there is no menstrual problem, treatment is unnecessary. Ways to remove unwanted hair include medicines, shaving, plucking, bleaching, waxing, using creams (depilatories), and electrolysis or laser light (for permanent removal).
For hirsutism related to menstrual problems, the doctor may prescribe medicines that contain female sex hormones to help balance male sex hormones. Other treatments may be needed to get pregnant.
Growths on ovaries or adrenal glands can be removed by some certain surgeries. Please consult your doctor to make sure if you are the candidate for these surgeries.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage hirsutism?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Hirsutism :
- Re-examinate punctually to keep track on the disease’s progress and your health condition.
- Follow doctor’s instruction
- Follow your doctor’s advice. Contact your doctor if you had successful treatment and unwanted hair returns.
- Lose weight if you’re overweight. Weight loss reduces hirsutism.
- Don’t use medicines that contain male sex hormones unless your doctor prescribes it.
- Don’t expect hirsutism to go away completely or immediately. Successful drug treatment may take 3 to 6 months.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Ferri, Fred. Ferri’s Netter Patient Advisor. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders / Elsevier, 2012. Print edition. Page 189
Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017