- What is Hirsutism?
- What causes Hirsutism?
- What is The Best Treatment for Hirsutism?
- Is Hirsutism preventable?
- Putting It All Together
Are you worried about excessive hair growth on your face, legs and back? Scared that you’ll be as hairy as your dad or your dear bro in a few years’ time?
Don’t worry girl, I’ve worried about the same things all my teenage years and let me tell you this…everything will be ok!
While we’re all about embracing our own unique beauty (unwanted hair and all), I must admit, unwanted hair is like my kryptonite.
Whenever I see my lady mustache in the mirror, I automatically feel self-conscious. It felt like the whole world is focused on my mustache!
One evening, while watching TV with my folks, I saw this segment about Hirsutism. *gasp*
Do I have it? What is Hirsutism anyway? Is it a serious condition? What are Hirsutism causes and treatment?
If you’re asking the same and are dying to know more, keep calm and read on!
What is Hirsutism?
Hirsutism is a condition where women experience excessive unwanted hair growth similar to a male’s hair growth pattern. Thus, you may observe that you have quite an abundance of dark and coarse unwanted hair in your arms, legs, back, and face.
What causes Hirsutism?
While the amount of body hair we get depends on our genetic makeup (shout-out to my dad’s genes!), there are different causes of hirsutism in females, they are as follows:
Hormonal Imbalance Due to PCOS
Probably the most common cause of Hirsutism, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS is characterized by the decrease in the female hormone, Estrogen and an increase in the male hormone, Testosterone.
If left untreated, it may cause irregular periods, obesity, acne, hair loss, and even infertility.
A dip in thyroid hormones (Hypothyroidism) or excessive amounts of it (Hyperthyroidism) may cause Hirsutism alongside other symptoms.
Although patients who experienced Hirsutism from having thyroid dysfunctions are quite rare, it is still best to consult your physician to rule out the underlying cause of your excessive unwanted hair growth.
Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia
A hereditary condition characterized by an anomalous production of steroid hormones by the renal glands. Certain ethnic groups such as Ashkenazi Jews, Hispanic and Slavs are more predisposed to this condition.
The most common sign of this condition is having ambiguous genitalia, which makes it hard to tell if someone is male or female as their genitals may show characteristics for both (this has caused quite a stir in the Olympic Games).
A condition characterized by an overproduction of the steroid hormone, Cortisol by our adrenal glands. Some people get Cushing’s syndrome due to prolonged exposure to certain medications such as Prednisone.
If you are taking this medication or other corticosteroid treatments for a prolonged period of time, your GP may request certain tests to check your Cortisol levels and rule out Cushing’s.
…let’s take five because it’s time for some cute bunny time…
Much like how prolonged exposure to corticosteroids may link to Hirsutism, endometriosis meds such as Danazol and depression meds such as Prozac are known to cause excess hair growth on the female body.
If your test results appear to be normal (no elevated hormones) and the cause of your excessive unwanted hair growth is unidentifiable, this condition is known as Idiopathic Hirsutism.
Certain ethnicities like those of South East Asian, Mediterranean or Middle Eastern descent are more prone to getting unwanted hair than others.
Exposure to BPA products
Drinking out of a disposable plastic bottle quite often? You’d be surprised to find out that prolonged exposure to Bisphenol-A (BPA) is linked to PCOS as its molecular structure has the ability to interact with your body’s estrogen receptors and cause it to go haywire.
If you think you’ll be the only one affected, think again. If you’re pregnant, there’s a huge chance that your unborn baby girl will also get PCOS later on in life. That’s scary!
What are The Common Symptoms of Hirsutism?
Though symptoms may vary depending on the underlying cause, there are symptoms that seem consistent across the factors mentioned above, and if you’re ticking nearly everything off this list, then it is time to visit your doctor to confirm that you indeed have Hirsutism and find out its root cause.
Here are some symptoms:
Excessive Hair Fall
Hair is our crowning glory but Hirsutism can cause it to shed and sometimes even fall in clumps.
You’re probably thinking “Can’t it be the other way around, make my unwanted hair shed and keep the hair on my head lusciously thick?”, I know, girl, and I kinda wish the same thing.
But, luckily, it’s 2019 and technology is evolving, which means you can turn to laser hair growth devices for your hair-loss problems.
Another sign that something is not right in your body (or that your hormones are thrown off) is having a sudden onset of acne.
One or two pimples prior to getting your period are considered normal, but if they suddenly show force by appearing in groups, girl, you have to get yourself checked.
…and no, not by Google. Google is not a doctor!
A Decrease in Breast Size
Losing weight even if you’re not dieting or exercising? Are your sisters starting to feel loose in your good ol’ bra?
Before you even think of getting breast enhancement, have a talk with your GP to get to the root of all this.
An Increase in Muscle Mass
Makes me remember this Olympian whose gender was questioned just because her muscle mass is similar to that of a man.
An increase in muscle mass may signal an increase in Testosterone which is a characteristic of a hormonal imbalance.
Easily gaining weight even if you’re putting too much effort to lose it?
Before you blame the bagel and cream cheese that you had this morning, putting on weight may signal impaired glucose tolerance or your body’s ability to process sugar, carbs, and fats to turn them into energy.
If left untreated, this may not only worsen your Hirsutism but lead to a much graver and lifelong disease, Type II Diabetes.
What is The Best Treatment for Hirsutism?
Hirsutism, just like a typical fever, is a symptom more than a disease. It is best to consult your doctor and rule out the underlying cause of your Hirsutism before anything else.
If you are overweight and have been diagnosed with PCOS, certain lifestyle changes need to be made in order to lose some weight and alleviate its symptoms.
Certain medications like contraceptive pills, anti-androgens and topical creams containing Eflornithine may also be given.
To remove pesky unwanted hair for good, you may try the following treatments:
Electrolysis is an in-office procedure that uses short radio frequencies to inhibit hair growth and eventually kill hair follicles.
Depending on your dermatologist’s assessment, multiple sessions may be required to achieve amazing and permanent results.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser treatments can be used in most areas of your body (except near the eyes), which use concentrated lasers to spurt growth and damage hair follicles.
Results may not be as lasting as Electrolysis but can last from one year to a couple of years before you start seeing some regrowth. Follow up treatments may need to be done to keep hair growth at bay.
To save money, you may read through my reviews on at-home laser hair removal treatments and give them a try.
If you need extra information regarding the hair removal methods mentioned above, feel free to read more on the topics, personal experiences, and recommendations by checking the Hair Removal section. Thank you!
Is Hirsutism preventable?
It depends on the underlying cause. Since the most common cause of Hirsutism (PCOS) is related to being overweight or obese, proper weight management is required to avoid this syndrome. You can achieve this through:
- Healthy eating – A low-calorie diet is known to decrease the risk of getting PCOS (Keto diet for PCOS is a match as well).
- Exercise – Paired with a healthy diet, you not only kick PCOS to the curb but heart diseases as well. Get those legs moving! You don’t have to do vigorous exercises, a 15-minute leisure walk daily is enough to keep your blood going.
What Hormone Is Usually Responsible For Hirsutism?
Abnormal levels of steroid hormones Cortisol and Androgen as well as the excessive amount of the male hormone, Testosterone cause Hirsutism in women.
Doctors may require blood work to check which hormones are anomalous before prescribing the necessary treatment.
Is There A Link Between Hypothyroidism And Hirsutism?
Although the percentage of women diagnosed with Hypothyroidism who contracted Hirsutism is relatively small, scientists have found a link between these two, blaming the underproduction of thyroid hormones as the main culprit for Hirsutism along with other symptoms.
Can Losing Weight Cure Hirsutism?
While unwanted hair may not go away completely, losing weight (if you are classified under overweight or obese) may help lessen Hirsutism and other symptoms.
I know friends who have been diagnosed with PCOS and were told by the doctor that the ovarian cysts they have are filled with water that may eventually go away when they start to lose weight.
Doctors may request CT Scans to rule out the type of cyst or tumor that you may have.
Can Hirsutism Go Away Over Time?
Hirsutism may not clear on its own but pair healthy lifestyle changes with proper medications and your Hirsutism may clear over time.
Various hair removal methods are also available to improve the appearance of your skin. You may choose between permanent and non-permanent hair removal depending on your budget, pain tolerance and your schedule (whether you can incorporate it on your daily routine or not).
Can Birth Control Cure Hirsutism?
Birth control is not only an effective way of contraception, but certain combinations may help cure Hirsutism by reducing high levels of androgens in your body, resulting to regulated periods, clearer skin, lesser unwanted hair, to name a few.
Should taking birth control give you undesirable effects, like terrible headaches, nausea or acne flare-ups, it’s best to discontinue the pills and consult your doctor.
Is Hirsutism A Sign Of Infertility?
Hirsutism alone may not signal or cause infertility, it’s the underlying cause that does. If you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS and are experiencing irregular periods, then you may find that you’re having a hard time getting pregnant, mainly because your cycle is kaput.
Your OBGYN will help you conceive through a workup that may include taking birth control pills, some other medication, planning the best time for any sexual activity and suggesting healthy lifestyle changes to reach your goal.
Putting It All Together
Hirsutism may seem unavoidable for some of us, but not to worry, with proper diagnosis and treatment it is totally curable. Thanks to the latest technological advancements, certain procedures are available to keep unwanted hair away for good.
Not to mention the wide array of hair removal products available in the market that suits your needs and budget. While these may be quick solutions to end your unwanted hair woes, always remember that in order to lessen Hirsutism and feel great all over, healthy lifestyle changes should be done.
You don’t have to do it all in one go. Start with what you are comfortable with, for example, this week you’d want to give up your soda drinking habit.
Start small, turn it into a good habit and don’t forget to celebrate small milestones!
(I celebrate with an Oreo Cheesecake at Starbucks. Yes, I know this is unhealthy, but I tell myself that it doesn’t hurt my non-existent abs if it happens once a month. Lol)
Remember, we’re all in this together (High School Musical playing in the background), should you have additional questions or if you want to share your experience in Hirsutism, feel free to write in the comment box below.
Wishing you a healthy, hair-free life! Ciao!