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How excess hair affects women and what is the cause

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Excess body hair in women can be a sign of a disorder called hyperandrogenismcaused by an increase in male sex hormones, such as testosterone.

This higher level of male hormones in women causes cosmetic changes such as abnormal hair growth on the back, chest, face and other areas that are unusual in the female sex, which is what is known as hirsutism.

This is pointed out by the Dr. Rui Ferreira de Vaconcelos Carvalhospecialist in Endocrinology and Nutrition at the Quirónsalud Madrid University Hospital: “Hyperandrogenism is characterized by excessive growth of terminal hair in a male-type pattern.”

Hirsutism or increased hair can be an important cause of malaise and depression in women, so it is vitally important to make an adequate evaluation of the symptoms in order to find the origin of this change in body and facial hair, explains the doctor.

He also emphasizes that it is important, in case too much body hair appears in a matter of months, consult with specialists and even more so if this symptom is accompanied by certain masculinizationsuch as alopecia and voice changes.

Furthermore, he points out that it is necessary go to a consultation if changes occur in menstruation or acne appears, since “these symptoms could be caused by polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS, a very common endocrine dysfunction that entails other added effects such as insulin resistance and irregular menstruations, among others.”

Causes of excess androgens

The most common is polycystic ovary syndrome, as the specialist emphasizes, however, there are other possible causes of hyperandrogenism, among which are:

  • Some drugs.
  • Congenital disorders such as non-classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
  • Ovarian hyperthecosis.
  • Idiopathic hirsutism.
  • Androgen-producing tumors, of ovarian or adrenal origin.
  • Endocrinological disorders, such as Cushing’s syndrome, certain syndromes that associate severe insulin resistance, among others.

Assess hirsutism

Excess body hair does not always indicate an endocrine disorder in women. Therefore, before prescribing treatment, the degree of hirsutism must be evaluated by means of Ferriman-Gallwey scale, which is the most used method to quantify it. To conclude the diagnosis of hyperandrogenism, the procedure must include:

  • Physical exploration.
  • Evaluation of symptoms and taking medication.
  • Blood test to check androgen level and other hormonal data.
  • Abdominal resonance, in some cases.

The most appropriate treatment

Depending on the origin of hyperandrogenism and the personal characteristics of the woman, sand prescribes the most appropriate therapy on an individualized basis.

For example, if the cause is polycystic ovary syndrome, “oral contraceptives are the most used drugssince they are quite effective in reducing excess hair, while regulating menstrual cycles that are already altered in this disease,” according to Dr. Ferreira de Vasconcelos Carvalho.

To this we must add that, in some cases, the taking of medications that allow treating the insulin resistance, which is also associated with this disease, to reduce the concentration of androgens or to address other causes.

Finally, all of this can be complemented with aesthetic techniques to remove hair, such as hair removal through classic techniques, laser or pulsed light. “These last two are highly effective in removing hair from the face,” concludes Dr. Rui Ferreira De Vasconcelos Carvalho.

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