Hormonal hirsutism is a disorder that affects women and causes an abnormally large amount of hair to grow in areas of the body where hair typically only grows on men. Contrary to the delicate, light “peach fuzz” that covers most of the body. The hair on this part of the body is typically thick and dark.
In most cases, hormonal hirsutism is not a medical ailment of itself. But rather a symptom of an underlying issue that has to be addressed. For majority of cases, the underlying issue is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Which is frequently associated with irregular menstrual cycles, acne, obesity, infertility. And an increased risk of diabetes and osteoporosis.
Male sex hormones and hormonal hirsutism in women
The female sexual hormone oestrogen is responsible for the fine and supple texture of body hair. Androgens, which include the male sex hormone testosterone, are the hormones that are responsible for the development of masculine traits such as coarse body hair and facial hair.
The ovaries and adrenal glands of a woman produce some quantity of androgens on their own spontaneously. It is believed that an excessively high level of androgens is the root cause of hormonal hirsutism in women in the vast majority of instances. There is a possibility that further masculine characteristics, such as a deeper voice and increased muscle mass, may emerge, as well as the cessation of menstrual periods (amenorrhoea).
In some circumstances, women’s androgen levels are normal, but their hair follicles are unusually sensitive to the effects of male sex hormones. This can cause females to have male-pattern baldness.
Symptoms of Hormonal Hirsutism
The parts of the body that are mostly impacted include the face (specifically the upper lip and chin, which can be particularly upsetting), the chest, the upper belly, the back, and the thighs. The hair is typically thicker and darker in color than average for the individual.
It is frequently accompanied by symptoms such as greasy skin, acne, irregular menstrual cycles, oily hair, and perhaps male pattern baldness. There may be additional indications and symptoms that manifest themselves, but these will vary according to the underlying cause.
Causes and Risk Factors of Hormonal Hirsutism
The presence of male and female sex hormones elicits a variety of responses from various parts of the body (testosterone and oestrogen, respectively). It is not abnormal for women to have trace amounts of testosterone in their bodies; nevertheless, there are a number of medical problems, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, that can produce an imbalance in the levels of sex hormones.
As a result of this imbalance, male pattern hair growth can take place. Rarely, other endocrine conditions such as a testosterone-secreting tumor, congenital adrenal hyperplasia (a genetic disorder that results in low levels of cortisol and high levels of male hormones), Cushing’s syndrome (exposure to elevated cortisol hormone levels), elevated prolactin levels, acromegaly (overproduction of growth hormone) and thyroid problems can also cause hirsutism.
Risk Factors of Hormonal Hirsutism
- Hormones. The illness is frequently connected to high amounts of male hormones (called androgens). These are typically produced by female bodies, and low quantities don’t promote excessive hair growth. However, in excess, these levels can result in hirsutism as well as other conditions like acne, a deep voice, and tiny breasts.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome, which results in the development of tiny cysts or fluid-filled sacs on your ovaries.
- Cushing’s syndrome, which is caused by prolonged exposure to excessive quantities of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Ovarian or adrenal gland tumors (which produce hormones like cortisol).
- Medication. Some medications can alter your hormone levels, causing you to develop unsightly facial or body hair. This may occur when:
- Hormone-containing medications, such as anabolic steroids
- Hair-growth-promoting medications, such as minoxidil (Rogaine)
- Danazol (Danocrine), a medication, is effective in treating endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue lining the uterus spreads outside the womb.
How is Hormonal Hirsutism Diagnosed?
Hormonal hirsutism can be diagnosed by looking at the characteristics of the hair growth and how it changes over time. In most cases, it also requires a thorough physical examination. In order to investigate possible underlying causes, a number of hormonal blood tests, which can be carried out in an outpatient setting, are required.
Imaging tests like an ultrasound of the abdomen, a CT scan, or an MRI may also be necessary at times. In cases of severe and rapidly progressing hormonal hirsutism, a more urgent investigation into the underlying cause of increased testosterone production is required.
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There are several methods you can use to get rid of unwanted face or body hair.
- Loss of weight. Your body could produce fewer male hormones if you are overweight and lose weight.
- Waxing. Melted wax can be used to quickly remove a lot of unwanted hair by the root. This is often done in a salon. Skin is covered in wax, which is rapidly removed. Redness and soreness may result from it.
- Shaving. A razor or electric shaver make it simple to get rid of unwanted hair. You might have to shave every day to prevent stubble growth. Too frequent shaving might cause razor burn in some people, but a soothing balm might be helpful.
- Hair removal with laser. Hair can be removed by the heat from lasers, but you may need to go through the procedure more than once because it occasionally grows back. The procedure is uncomfortable and may harm your skin because it targets the roots of the hair.
- Using tweezers or thread. There are various techniques for removing hair from the root. Tweezers are an option. Or you may pay someone to “thread,” or to loop a long, tight strand around each undesired hair and pull it out. Pain and redness may result from these techniques.
- Creams. Depilatories, potent compounds found in some lotions. When you apply the cream and let it sit for a time, the hair comes off with it. Test a tiny area first before applying one to a wide area because they can irritate delicate skin.
- Electrolysis. With electrolysis, a technique that uses an electric current to blast hair at the root, you can get rid of hair permanently. The method should be repeated multiple times before the treated areas’ hair growth stops.
- Medication. Drugs that alter the way your body grows hair can be prescribed by doctors. On the other hand, hair will regrow when you stop using it.
- Birth control tablets reduce the amount of masculine hormones the body produces. You ought to have less hair on your face or body after continued use.
- Your body can produce and utilise less male hormones with the use of anti-androgens.
- The face cream eflornithine (Vaniqa) reduces the development of hair where it is applied.
Self-care for Hormonal Hirsutism
You can take care of yourself by doing things like:
- Seeing your doctor if you think your medicine is making you sick. For example, weight gain, depression, and tiredness are some of the side effects of anti-androgen drugs. The doctor may change your dose or give you a different drug.
- Medical treatments won’t make unwanted hair fall out, so you’ll have to use your favorite hair removal method, like waxing, depilatory creams, laser, or electrolysis, to get rid of it.
- You might want to try a cream that you get from a doctor to stop hair growth. Remember that you have to use the cream every day, and it could take up to two months for it to work. About two out of three women don’t find that the cream works.
- If PCOS is the root cause of hirsutism, losing weight may help because weight loss can naturally lower the number of androgens your body makes.
- It is important to be patient during treatment. It could take up to a year to see results, and it could take up to four years to see the best results. Talk to your doctor to find out more.