Hirsutism Q & A
What is hirsutism?
Hirsutism or excessive coarse hair growth in women is a symptom commonly linked to endocrine complications or hormone changes from menopause. Regardless of the condition or conditions causing it, hirsutism often results in the growth of dark, coarse hair in the following areas:
- Upper lip
- Chin and jaw
Under normal circumstances, you might have peach fuzz hair in areas like these that are very fine, short, and light in color. However, excess androgens (male hormones) in your bloodstream or in your hair follicles can cause changes in the hair that are characteristic of hirsutism.
Even though hirsutism isn’t necessarily a harm to your health, it can cause emotional distress and affect your self-esteem. If you want to treat your hirsutism in a more permanent way than shaving, waxing, or getting laser hair removal, the team at Ally Endocrinology can diagnose you and find an appropriate treatment for the underlying cause.
What causes hirsutism?
It isn’t always easy to diagnose an underlying cause for hirsutism, as many cases occur without an apparent cause. However, there are several hormone conditions and changes that are known causes of hirsutism. Your provider at Ally Endocrinology performs evaluations and tests to find out if your hirsutism comes from:
Natural androgen production
Some women naturally produce more androgens than others. If the levels are higher than average or if your follicles are particularly sensitive to androgens, you might experience hirsutism.
Hormone changes during menopause
Menopause is marked by fluctuations in your hormones. For some women, these fluctuations result in hirsutism hair growth.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a hormone condition in some women that causes them to produce too many androgens. Along with hirsutism, they might get a deeper voice, increased muscle mass, and experience weight gain.
Some medications can lead to an overproduction of androgens, including anabolic steroids, testosterone, and glucocorticoids.
What treatments are there for hirsutism?
In most cases, the team at Ally Endocrinology creates an individualized treatment plan for hirsutism using several different techniques. Often, one of the first steps in treatment for hirsutism is weight loss. Losing weight helps lower your androgen levels naturally, and even a 5% body fat loss can result in a significant lowering.
The components of your hirsutism treatment plan depend on the underlying causes, if there are any. Your individualized approach might include:
- Oral contraceptives (birth control pills)
- Androgen suppressant medication
- Low-dose steroids
- Insulin-lowering drugs
- Gonadotropin-releasing hormones (GnRH)
- Long-term hair removal methods (e.g., electrolysis, laser hair removal)
Depending on your course of treatment, you may need to attend one or more follow-up appointments at Ally Endocrinology to check your progress with treatment.
If you’re a woman experiencing coarse hair growth from hirsutism, call Ally Endocrinology, or book an appointment at your nearest location online today.