Female Hirsutism Causes – Can Excessive Hair Growth Be Treated?

female hirsutism causes

Hirsutism is a condition of excess male-pattern hair growth in women. Women who suffer from hirsutism grow excessive amounts of dark and coarse hair on body areas where men typically grow hair, such as the face, the back or the chest. But what causes hirsutism in the first place and can it be treated?

In this article, I am going to list the most common female hirsutism causes and explain them in detail.

What Is Hirsutism?

As already mentioned, hirsutism results in excess terminal hair. While the amount of your body hair is determined by your heredity and genetic makeup, having excessive hair growth and more hair on body parts, where women commonly don’t have hair, is a medical condition that can have many causes.

Women who are affected by hirsutism usually try to remove unwanted hair by shaving or trying other hair removal methods only to realize that none of these methods work to get rid of unwanted hair in the long run.

There are specific symptoms that these women have in common apart from excessive hair growth, which brings me to my next point.

Symptoms Of Hirsutism

While women of certain ethnic groups, such as Indian women, tend to have more dense and darker hair than Caucasian women, there are certain symptoms you should watch out for:

  • A deepening of the voice
  • Increased muscle mass
  • enlargement of the clitoris
  • decreased breast size
  • oily skin
  • acne
  • hair loss (alopecia)
  • receding hair line
  • irregular menstrual periods
  • texted, pigmented hair on body parts where men usually grow hair (face, back, chest)

Women who have a mild form of hirsutism may notice hair as thick as the hair on their scalp on their upper lip, chin, the side burn area, around the nipples or on their lower abdomen.

Women with advanced hirsutism may experience a growth of mature hair on the shoulders, upper back, upper abdomen and the sternum.

The symptoms usually start during puberty. If the symptoms start before or after puberty, the cause could be hormonal. If any of these symptoms apply to you, it is recommended to see a doctor.

What Are The Causes Of Hirsutism?

As soon as a girl hits puberty, her ovaries begin to produce a mixture of female and male hormones, which causes hair to grow in the pubic area and in the armpits.

If this hormonal mix becomes unbalanced and the male hormones (androgens) far outweigh the female hormones (estrogens), hirsutism can occur. Women usually have smaller quantities of androgens.

Another reason for hirsutism can be an oversensitivity of the hair follicles to androgens, which can cause hair loss on the scalp.

Here are common causes for hirsutism:

  • Medications: Certain medications, such as fluoxetine (Prozac) for depression, danazol for women with endometriosis or systemic corticosteroids, can cause hirsutism.
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Being one of the most common causes for hirsutism, this condition is caused by an imbalance of sex hormones. This can result in obesity, infertility, multiple cysts on the ovaries or in irregular periods.
  • Tumors: Although this only rarely occurs, an androgen-secreting tumor in the ovaries or adrenal glands can also cause hirsutism.
  • Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia: The characteristics of this inherited condition are an abnormal production of steroid hormones by your adrenal glands, including androgens and cortisol.
  • Cushing’s Syndrome: This is a condition that occurs when your body is exposed to high levels of cortisol, which can be caused by an overproduction of cortisol in your adrenal glands or by taking medications (e.g. prednisone) over a long period of time.
  • Insulin: High levels of insulin in women can also contribute to the development of hirsutism as it can stimulate the ovarian cells to produce androgens.
  • Obesity: Obese people tend to have high cholesterol and diabetes, which can result in hirsutism.
  • No Identifiable Cause: Sometimes, hirsutism doesn’t indicate a significant medical abnormality as it can also occur without an identifiable cause. This is called “Idiopathic hirsutism” and occurs more frequently in certain ethnic populations, such as in women of Middle Easter, Mediterranean and South Asian ancestry.

The Diagnosis

If you go to a physician, he will most likely ask you about your menstrual cycle first and check your medical history. Patients with a normal cyclic pattern of menstrual periods have a higher chance of having inherited the hirsutism, meaning the gene for it runs in the family.

If the menstrual cycle has always been irregular, polycystic ovary syndrome might be a possible reason. Therefore, it is advised to have some tests carried out. The results will show if the patient has a more serious condition, such as a tumor of the adrenal glands, the pituitary glands or the ovaries.

Measuring levels of the DHEA hormone and testosterone can check for signs of ovary tumors, adrenal gland tumors or polycystic ovary syndrome. Also, a hormone called prolactin sometimes gets measured additionally to check for signs of a tumor in the pituitary gland.

Furthermore, your cholesterol levels as well as your blood sugar may be tested as well.

Treatment Methods

In case your doctor has found the cause of your excessive hair growth, he may suggest an appropriate treatment. If overweight is the cause for instance, losing weight would be the ideal treatment as it reduces androgen levels and will lead to a decline of symptoms.

If your insulin levels are too high, lowering them would be an appropriate treatment option.

There are also some cosmetic and medical treatments that might help decrease the levels of androgens. Some birth control pills decrease the production of testosterone and may lead to an improvement as well. A commonly used medication for treating hirsutism is Spironolactone.

Another option is electrolysis, where hair gets removed with an electric current. After a few sessions, your hair should stop growing in the treated areas.

A Laser Hair Removal targets hair at the roots and will prevent further hair growth after repeating the process a few times.

Conclusion

The most important thing and also the first thing you will have to do is to find out what causes your excessive hair growth in the first place before you can choose the right treatment option.

It is not always easy to find a solution that will treat your symptoms, but exercising and a healthy diet can help you control your weight and lower the risks of high cholesterol and diabetes.


I hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section down below and I will be more than happy to help you out!

Cheers,

Ruya

Founder of The Hairy Solution

 

 

 

 

12 Replies to “Female Hirsutism Causes – Can Excessive Hair Growth Be Treated?”

  1. Great post and good info.

    My wife doesn’t have this problem but I know somebody who has.

    She had been looking for a solution for a long while but nothing worked, like more eggwhite and these kinds of stuff, which in my eyes are crap solutions.

    So I’m going to share this post with her and be confident. She will be happy with the solutions you are bringing, together with the possible causes!

    1. Thank you, Emmanuel! Many women suffer from hirsutism and many of them are too embarrassed to talk about this topic. I’m glad if I can help affected women with this post and make them think about possible causes as well as offer them some solutions. Thanks for sharing this article! All the best, Ruya

  2. I may not have this problem but at least now I am well informed. I remember that I do have a friend (long time ago) with this condition. Out of politeness, I did not ask further as not to cause embarrassment. With this information, I may be able to give a word of advice should there be a case. Thanks for the article.

    1. Hi Sharon! I can relate to that… Oftentimes one doesn’t know how to handle such sensitive matters and prefers not to say anything rather than drop a brick. I hope I will be able to shed some light on this issue and reach out to as many affected women as possible. Regards, Ruya

  3. What an eye opener this article is!

    I have this issue and never knew it could be a medical issue!! I am 45 years old and have had excess hair growth in abnormal male areas, mostly my upper lip area. 

    I bet I am not the only one who did not know this could be a medical issue that can be treated or at least diagnosed. 

    I also have rapid regrowth after shaving my legs and underarms, I could shave daily if my skin didn’t dry out so much! 

    My hair grows so much that over the past 20 years I have donated it 5 times, and each time it was well over 2 feet of growth, and I still had a head full of hair after the donation.

    I think it is wonderful that you wrote this article! This will help so many women that struggle with this on a daily basis. 

    1. Thank you, Stacie! I’m sure there are way too many women out there who don’t know that this is a medical issue. At least you turned it into something positive and contributed to a great cause, which is awesome! At least now you know there is a solution for this issue, which I hope will help you find the one that suits you best. All the best, Ruya

  4. This is an interesting topic. Knowing that excessive hair on a woman is actually a known condition can be good for women suffering from hirsutism, which will make them able to pinpoint its possible cause and associate it with the symptoms. That way they will find a solution.

    The electrolysis and hair removal procedures look like great solutions to slow down the growth! 

    1. Thank you, Dianne! To every problem there is a solution. As soon as we know what causes a specific problem, we are one big step closer to solving it. All the best, Ruya

  5. Hirsutism really is a serious condition and it is so painful knowing that it can even lead to infertility. So the only best thing to do is to visit the Doctor whenever noticing the symptoms of Hirsutism. What makes it better is the fact that it can be treated with the different ways you have just mentioned… at least people can be treated and be normal again.

    1. It certainly is! I think the fact that so many people don’t know that it’s actually a condition makes it a lot worse than the condition itself. Once affected people know that it is a condition that can be treated, they will take action, which in fact is the aim of this post. Regards, Ruya

  6. I didn’t know much about hirsutism before I read this article but you did a good job of going over the topic and explaining it for someone like me. It’s good to know that there are some treatments for this condition, but some of them look more complicated than others. Do you think it would be a better idea to approach the less complex treatments first, such as losing weight, or should you start with something like Laser Hair Removal? Thanks for sharing this resource!

    1. Thank you, Danny! The first thing one has to do is get a health check up to find out what causes the hirsutism. If you don’t know what causes it it will be hard to find a solution that suits you. Of course you can try out different ways to get rid of unwanted hair and start with losing weight if you think it’ll help, but knowing what causes it in the first place makes it a lot easier to find the most suitable solution that matches your individual needs. Regards, Ruya

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