What is Hirsutism?

Hirsutism is a condition in which male patterned hair growth is seen in woman. This condition usually is seen where men typically grow hair, such as on the chest, the face, and the back. The hair is stiff and pigmented and is grown in excessive amounts. There is not a determined amount of hair that is grown. This will be based solely on your genetic makeup. Those at higher risk for developing hirsutism include those that are from the Middle East, South Asia, and the Mediterranean. If there is a family history of polycystic ovary syndrome or congenital adrenal hyperplasmia, there is a greater chance of one developing hirsutism.

Hirsutism is caused by the following:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome- An imbalance of sex hormones that can result in obesity, irregular periods, infertility and multiply cysts on the ovaries.  It is a very common condition to have.
  • Tumors- While this is rare, an androgen secreting tumor in the ovaries or the adrenal glands can cause hirsutism.
  • Cushing ‘s Syndrome- The body is exposed to high levels of cortisol. Taking medications such as Prednisone can make the body produce too much of this or it can be produced when the adrenal glands make too much cortisol.
  • Medications- Some medications are known to cause hirsutism. Danaszol has been known to cause it.
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasmia- This condition has an abnormal production of steroid hormones by the adrenal glands and is inherited. The steroid hormones include androgen and cortisol.

Possible complications with Hirsutism

There are some complications that go with hirsutism. There are no real physical complications that are associated with this skin condition, however, many times woman that have this are self conscious due to the extra hair in places it should not be located at on females. Irregular periods are often a symptom due to the underlying cause of polycystic ovary syndrome, which can inhibit fertility in woman.  Medications taken for hirsutism may also cause birth defects.

Hirsutism Symptoms and Tests

Should you suspect you have hirsutism, you will need to see a doctor or dermatologist. Tests will be done to see the levels of hormones in the blood, such as testosterone. An ultrasound or CT scan may also be needed if the androgen levels are elevated. These tests will check the ovaries and adrenal glands for tumors or cysts.

Hirsutism Treatment

There are many different treatments for hirsutism. These include birth control, which have to have progestin and estrogen, that will slow the androgen production in the ovaries. Side effects for birth control include headaches, nausea, upset stomach and dizziness.

Anti-androgens can be taken for hirsutism as well. These drugs will prevent androgens from attacking onto a receptor in the body. Do keep in mind that birth control should be taken with these as these drugs can cause birth defects. You must consult your doctor prior to undertaking any treatments.

To remove the unwanted hair for good, one can use either laser therapy or electrolysis. With laser therapy, the laser will damage the hair follicles as it is passed over the skin, and new hair will be prevented from growing. Under electrolysis, a tiny needle is inserted into each hair follicle, with an electric current being sent to damage and destroy the follicle.

There are some self care temporary methods one can consider to deal with the excess hair. One can try plucking or shaving the hair off. Plucking is good for a small area, but would not work well with a large patch of hair. Shaving is quick and effective, but will have to be regularly maintained to not get stubble. Waxing is often used for those that want to remove unwanted hair. And chemical depilatories work to break down the protein structure of the hair shaft.

5 replies
  1. Theresa
    Theresa says:

    I feel badly for anyone that suffers from this condition. I know that there is a girl that works at my local convenience store that suffers from it on her face. She is the nicest person, it is just too bad that hirsutism happened to her. She does not let it seem to bother her. She seems to have lots of confidence, but I have overheard people trash talking her because of it. Which is really sad in this day of age that we have to put people down for something that they can not help. I feel like I should share this article with her but am not really sure what the best way to approach it would be. I know that I would want help if I suffered from a condition that caused me to have hair on my body where there should not be hair.

  2. Feeling depressed
    Feeling depressed says:

    I suffer from this horrible condition on my face. I am a 27 year old lady that has a beard. NO guy has ever given me a second look. I have zero self confidence. I have never dated before. I so badly just want someone to think that I am beautiful. I have shaved my hair off my face before but sometimes I wonder if that does not make it grow in thicker. I have heard that it does when you shave. I am looking into getting laser therapy done. I want so badly to make it work. I look forward to the day when I do not have to worry about the manly face hair. I just want it gone and am willing to go any step now after reading this article to do it. Maybe confidence will be here soon for me.

  3. Marrey
    Marrey says:

    I have suffered from hirsutism. I have shaved, plucked, waxed, and even bleached my hair. Trust me I have spend a lot on different methods and none of them give me the results that I want to see. I finally decided I had had enough and went to my dermatologist. Next week I am going to have laser therapy done on my chest. I feel that this will really help me gain more confidence as right now I am too worried about wearing too low of a cut shirt because I do not want others to see my hairy chest. I know that some have said oh it can not be that bad…I get a few black hairs on my chest from time to time. Trust me, I look like I have the chest of a man! I am embarrassed by it, but vow to make it better!

  4. Is prevention possible?
    Is prevention possible? says:

    Is there a way to prevent hirsutism from starting? I only ask for those that have a family member with the Polycystic ovary syndrome or the Congenital adrenal hyperplasmia. What are the chances of getting hirsutism if you do have a family member that has one of these medical conditions?

  5. Help my best friend
    Help my best friend says:

    My best friend suffered with hirsutism. I felt awful for her. She is the sweetest person ever, and then to have this unwanted hair growing on your back. She just was not confident, and would not wear certain clothes and never wore a swim suit. Last fall she decided to bite the bullet and she did the electrolysis. She is a completely different person now! She has the confidence that she needed all along and even wore a swimsuit this summer for the first time in a few years. She looked great and owes it all to having a professional treatment done on her to get rid of the hair that she never asked for in the first place.


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