Hirsutism is a condition that causes random unwanted and excessive hair growth in certain areas of the body. It’s a common condition that mainly affects women and is usually a symptom of another underlying condition.
Unwanted facial hair is often the most awkward symptom, causing low self-esteem, embarrassment and quite often distress. Up to 40% of women are affected by hirsutism at some stage in their life.
Hirsutism is a direct cause of either an excess of male hormones (androgens) in the body, or the body becoming more sensitive to the existing amount of endogenous androgen present. It’s not always clear what occurs to cause the symptoms but the two biggest causes are:
– PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) – This is the most common cause in younger women. It is characterised by increased androgens in the body, developed fluid filled sacs in one ovary or both and irregular periods. PCOS patients often have difficulty in controlling their hormone levels, this includes androgens, thus causing increased, thicker and darker facial hair.
Post Menopause – Causes for hirsutism in post-menopausal women is unknown as sometimes androgen levels can be within range, yet a patient may still suffer from it. Some women tend to have greater facial hair growth as they get older regardless of menopause.
Less common causes include:
–Obesity –Cushings syndrome -Congenital adrenal hyperplasia –Acromegaly -Certain medicines such as certain HRT or IVF drugs -A tumour