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3874 Hirsutism



Hirsutism is a condition, in which there is excessive hair growth in certain areas of a woman's face and body, such as the beard area, mustache etc, that creates a male pattern of hair growth. Women generally have fine, indistinctly visible hair, but profound growth which is typical of a male pattern is not expected in women.

Unwanted terminal hair growth is caused by an increased level of androgens, male hormones or oversensitivity of hair follicles to androgens.

Conditions that can cause high androgen levels include:

Cushing's syndrome: This occurs when the body is exposed to high levels of the hormone cortisol, a steroid hormone that is involved in one's body's response to stress. Increased cortisol levels disrupt the balance of sex hormones in the body which can cause Hirsutism.

Polycystic ovary syndrome: This condition is caused by the imbalance of sex hormones in women which can result in irregular periods, obesity, infertility and sometimes, multiple cysts on ovaries.

Tumors: Very rarely will an androgen-secreting tumor in the ovaries or adrenal glands cause Hirsutism.

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: An inherited condition characterized by an abnormal production of steroid hormones including cortisol and androgen, by your adrenal glands.

Medications: There are some medications that can cause Hirsutism.

Sometimes there are no identifiable causes and women with normal androgen levels and regular menstrual periods can have excessive hair growth, and this is called idiopathic Hirsutism.

Symptoms of Hirsutism

A major sign of this condition is coarse and pigmented body hair on face, chest, and back, appearing on the body where women don't commonly have hair. When very high androgen levels cause Hirsutism, other signs may develop over a period of time, a process called virilisation.

Signs of virilisation include:

• Balding
• Deepening of voice
• Acne
• Enlargement of the clitoris
• Decreased breast size
• Increased muscle mass

When to see a doctor?

You should seek medical assistance if you notice any of the following:

• Unwanted hair growth that is associated with irregular menstrual periods.
• Increased hair growth on places such as your cheeks, upper lip, neck, midchest, chin, inner thighs or low back.
• Male features such as increased muscle mass, deepening voice, balding and decreased breast size.

Women who are approaching menopause may develop unwanted hair, but this isn't considered as Hirsutism. Your doctor will be able to distinguish between the hair that develops at the time of menopause and unwanted excess hair resulting from another condition.


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