The Unwanted Hair Growth- Hirsutism

Hirsutism is a condition of unwanted hair growth in certain areas of a women’s face and body, such as upper lip, beard area, chest and abdomen, that creates a “male pattern” of hair growth. It affects around 5-10% of the women and is a common presenting complaint among females for cosmetic reasons.

Hirsutism is attributed either to increased production or increased sensitivity of the hair follicles to the male hormone- testosterone. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which causes irregular menstrual cycles, is the main cause of the same. However in some cases the reasons for the same can be unknown as all reports may seem normal. Such a type is called Idiopathic Hirsutism. It is important for women to not feel shy and embarrassed about the situation.  Often resorting to excessive bleaching and razers can harm the skin and the self image of a woman. You should come forward and talk to either a Gyneacologist or an Endocrinologist. The doctors after taking the complete history would advice certain tests that would measure the amount of certain hormones in the blood. If the androgen levels are elevated, doctor may recommend an ultrasound or a CT scan to check ovaries and adrenal glands for tumors or cysts.

Unwanted Hair Growth

The main causes of Hirsutism are:

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: In 70% of the cases PCOS is the cause of Hirsutism. Women with PCOS often have hirsutism in combination with acne, balding near the front of the head, and menstrual irregularities. PCOS is also accompanied by infertility (due to menstrual irregularity), obesity, diabetes , High cholesterol and possible heart disease.

Idiopathic Hirsutism: Idiopathic hirsutism refers to hirsutism that has no identifiable cause. It is usually a mild variation of PCOS. A gradual increased growth of coarse body hair is typically the only symptom in women with this condition. Menstrual cycles are normal in women with idiopathic hirsutism.

Drug Induced: Certain drugs and steroids taken the past can trigger a hormonal imbalance and cause hirsutism

Adrenal or tumour causes: These are rare and are related to tumours or abnormal functioning of the adrenal gland.

Since Hirsutism can be a combination of medical issues self medication is not recommended. There are a variety of ways through which the same can be managed or cured. The treatment options are:

Medical Management: The doctors can recommend a combination of drugs such as oral contraceptives (contain estrogen & progestin that inhibits the male hormone), anti-androgens and insulin sensitive drugs.

Cosmetic Hair Removal: Electrolysis and the modern day safe Laser therapy are sought after cosmetic ways for removal of unwanted hair. The procedures destroy the hair follicles and prevent the hair from growing.

Surgical Therapy: Only in specific cases Laparoscopic ovarian drilling or removal of ovarian & adrenal tumours can help treat Hirsutism.

It is important to understand that this problem is medical and can be treated, managed and cured with expert advice & guidance. Women usually get depressed and have image issues. One should not get distressed; it may be a possibility that the reason may be just a little imbalance in your hormones. Eating healthy, weight loss and exercise are tried and tested natural ways to keep your body fit & balanced.