Hirsutism is a condition characterized by excessive growth of dark, coarse hair in women in a male pattern. This can include growth of facial hair (chin and upper lip), chest, stomach, and back. Hirsutism is often a symptom of an underlying imbalance Hormones, especially an excess of androgens, the male sex hormones, which are also found in small amounts in women.


Hirsutism can be caused by various conditions including:

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) : The most common cause, a hormonal disorder that leads to irregular menstrual cycles, cysts in the ovaries, and increased androgen levels.
  • Cushing's syndrome : A condition characterized by high levels of cortisol in the body.
  • Androgen-secreting tumors : Rare, but such tumors in the ovaries or adrenal glands can lead to high androgen levels.
  • Adrenogenital syndrome (AGS) : An inherited disorder that affects the production of cortisol and sometimes aldosterone, leading to an excess of androgens.
  • Medications : Some medications can cause hirsutism as a side effect, including steroids and certain medications used to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorder.


In addition to unwanted hair growth, women with hirsutism may also experience other symptoms depending on the underlying cause, such as:

  • Acne or oily skin
  • A deepening of the voice
  • Enlargement of the clitoris
  • Altered menstrual cycles


The diagnosis of hirsutism usually includes:

  • A thorough medical history and physical examination
  • Blood tests to measure hormone levels
  • Imaging tests such as ultrasound or MRI to look for ovarian or adrenal tumors


Treatment aims to address the underlying cause of hirsutism and manage symptoms:

  • Drug therapy : Oral contraceptives (the pill) can help regulate hormone levels. Antiandrogen medications such as spironolactone can block the effects of androgens.
  • Hair removal and hair bleaching methods : These include mechanical methods (shaving, plucking ), chemical depilatories, laser hair removal and electrolysis.
  • Lifestyle changes : For women with PCOS, losing weight can help relieve symptoms.

Important considerations

Hirsutism can be emotionally distressing and affect self-esteem. It is important that affected women receive appropriate medical and psychological support. An open dialogue with a healthcare provider about the best treatment options and strategies is critical to improving quality of life.

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