Hirsutism in women is a condition that causes excessive hair growth or abnormal hair growth in women. This is rather a common condition in India with over 10 million cases per year. It is usually a treatable condition. The underlying cause of this condition is found through lab tests. However, despite being so common, there is a lot of stigma against hirsutism in India and the world over. Hirsutism, which is simply excessive hair growth, is often portrayed through large, thick, long beards and long hairs on the face. While strands of hair are capable of growing that long, in most cases, hirsutism in women does not resemble these images.
Hirsutism in women: What does it look like?
Hirsutism is a condition in which a woman grows hair in a male pattern. To elaborate, it grows in areas where men have hair growth. Symptoms of hirsutism include growth of hair in areas such as the face, chest, back, etc. It looks different from your normal body hair. The texture of hair grown due to this condition is characterized by coarse and dark hair. It is generally easy to self-diagnose as symptoms of hirsutism are easily visible, but it’s always recommended that you consult a doctor if you believe you are experiencing this condition.
Hirsutism in women and its causes:
Abnormal hair growth is caused due to many reasons. Usually, they are a symptom of an underlying problem, here are some causes:
- PCOS/PCOD: Polycystic ovary syndrome or disorder (PCOS/PCOD) is a disorder in a female that is one of the reasons for facial hair growth an imbalance of sex hormones. A person suffering from PCOS can have weight gain, irregular periods, display excessive hair growth, acne, cause multiple cysts on the ovaries, etc. If PCOS is left untreated it may even lead to infertility.
- Hypercortisolism or Cushing syndrome: This is a condition in which the body is found to have high levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone. When the body has high levels of it, one can find hair growth in excess on their body apart from other symptoms.
- Tumours: In very rare cases, tumours secreting androgen can be found in the ovaries or adrenal glands, this can lead to abnormal hair growth in the body.
- Insulin: Higher levels of insulin is one of the reasons for facial hair growth. It can stimulate cells of the ovaries to produce androgen. This could be a reason for hirsutism.
- Effect of medication: Some medications can cause hirsutism in women as a side effect. For example, Danazol used in the treatment of endometriosis can cause excessive hair growth.
- Other factors like obesity, family history etc can be reasons for hirsutism.
It must be noted that sometimes there is no observable reason for this condition. A person can experience one or more reasons, or none of the above reasons while having abnormal hair growth.
Hirsutism in women & treatment options:
There are various treatments and medications available for abnormal hair growth. They are broadly categorised into medications, procedures, hair removal services.
- Medication to reduce the effect of hirsutism: Hormonal contraceptives or birth control pills are recommended by doctors to stop hirsutism. These pills contain estrogen and progestin which help treat hirsutism. In some cases, doctors suggest anti-androgens. The name is quite self-explanatory – they block androgens from receptors in your body. They are usually recommended only if the doctor feels oral contraceptives are not working efficiently. Another medication would be a prescribed topical cream. This cream helps to slow the hair growth but cannot get rid of the existing hair.
- Procedures: Laser therapy is a procedure that is used to treat hirsutism in women. A medical-grade beam of light is emitted on the skin. This eventually damages the hair follicles and stops them from growing. Depending on the person’s growth, the number of sittings is determined. Electrolysis is another treatment where a needle is inserted into the hair follicles. The hair follicle is damaged through the electric current passing through the needle.
- Hair removal services: Hair removal services include shaving, waxing and bleaching. These do not stop new hair from growing. They simply remove the existing hair. While these procedures are a budget-friendly option, they can cause skin irritation if not done properly.
While there are many options to choose from to treat hirsutism in women, one must be cautious and not proceed with seeking advice from the doctor. Medications can cause side effects like headache, nausea, irregularity of periods. Procedures can cause discoloration, irritation on the skin. Opting for hair removal services can cause skin allergies or damage to the skin. So while treating excessive hair growth, ensure that you visit a doctor to learn all possible side effects. Hirsutism can affect a woman’s self-esteem due to a lack of awareness. Treatment of hirsutism is important not just to boost one’s confidence but it may be a symptom of an underlying problem like PCOS or endometriosis. If you would like to book an appointment with Ahmedabad’s best fertility doctor- Dr. Manish Banker then you can visit our website.
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1. What causes hirsutism in women?
Hirsutism in women is mainly caused by PCOS. In some cases, excessive androgen, insulin is being produced in the body which leads to excessive hair growth. There cases where there is no defined reason as well.
2. Can hirsutism be cured?
Hirsutism can be stopped from getting worse. It is observed once the underlying cause is identified and corrected, automatically the hair falls off. For example, women who are overweight, and are experiencing this condition, upon weight loss do see positive changes.
3. Does hirsutism always mean PCOS?
PCOS is one of the most common causes of hirsutism as it disrupts hormonal production in the body. However, there are cases where hirsutism is caused by no identifiable reason.
4. Is hirsutism a sign of infertility?
Hirsutism in women is usually caused by PCOS. PCOS if left untreated can lead to infertility. But without a proper diagnosis with a doctor, one cannot determine if it is a sign of infertility.