All You Need To Know About Hirsutism
July 14, 2021 | Farah Jassawalla

All You Need To Know About Hirsutism

Hirsutism is a common clinical condition in which females develop excessive coarse or colored hair on their face, neck, upper lip, abdomen, thighs and other parts of the body.

It is the most common endocrine disorder, mainly caused by excess male hormones such as testosterone, disorders of the adrenal gland or ovaries, or menopausal-related hormone changes. Self-care practices and effective treatment options are available for women who wish to treat hirsutism.

What Causes Hirsutism?

Often, hirsutism occurs with no identifiable cause. But some common causes of hirsutism include:

      Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): A condition in which small cysts form on the ovaries causing an imbalance of sex hormones occurs. It causes many problems like excessive hair growth, weight gain, irregular periods, etc.

      Increased levels of androgens:  Although the hormone is more prominent in men than in women, its high levels in women cause excessive hair growth.

      Medications: Some medications like minoxidil (Rogaine), glucocorticoids, cyclosporin, anabolic steroids, danazol and phenytoin cause hirsutism. Other medicines such as dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), primarily used to treat osteoporosis, also cause excessive hair growth in women.

      Cushing syndrome: It can happen due to increased production of cortisol from your adrenal glands or long-term use of prednisone.

      Tumor: Hirsutism caused by the tumors of pituitary glands, ovaries and adrenal glands is more severe and requires quick medical treatment.

Range of Risk Factors

      Obesity: If you are overweight, your body tends to produce more testosterone than normal. And eventually, the condition gets worse.

      Ancestry: Women living in the middle east, South Asia, and Mediterranean regions are likely to have more body hair than other women.

      Family history: Conditions that affect your hormones, such as polycystic ovary syndrome and congenital adrenal hyperplasia, run in families and cause hirsutism.

What are the Symptoms of Hirsutism? 

Symptoms of hirsutism include:

      Excessive dark and thick hair growth on the areas where women usually don't have hair, for example, face (upper lip/chin), neck, chest, abdomen and inner thighs, etc.

      Oily skin


      Reduction in breast size

      Increased muscle mass

      The size of the clitoris increases

      A deeper voice

      Loss of hair (alopecia)

How is it Diagnosed?

Doctors conduct several tests and examinations to diagnose hirsutism. Some of them are mentioned below:

1.    Physical examination is conducted where your doctor will check for physical signs such as acne or hair growth.

2.    Medical history is taken, which will tell the doctor about irregular periods and other vital information.

3.    Blood tests are carried out to check your hormone levels, including testosterone or testosterone-like hormones.

4.    Blood and sugar levels are checked.

5.    Ultrasound is performed to look at your ovaries and uterus.

6.    CT scan is used to look at your adrenal glands.

What is the Treatment for Hirsutism?

Several cosmetic or self-care practices, medications and procedures are involved in the treatment of hirsutism. We will discuss all these options one by one.

      Self-care practices include waxing, plucking, shaving, losing weight, and many home remedies. If these procedures do not work, switch to medical treatment with your doctor’s consultation.

      Medications like oral contraceptives, topical creams, birth control pills and anti-androgens stop hair growth and make the condition less severe. The hair will grow back if you stop using these medications. For more information, book an appointment with Shifa4U.

      Procedures such as laser hair removal and electrolysis are more effective than self-care methods.

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Farah Jassawalla

Farah Jassawalla is a graduate of the Lahore School of Economics. She is also a writer, and healthcare enthusiast, having closely observed case studies while working with Lahore's thriving general physicians at their clinics.