Encyclopedia

Hirsutism

Description

Hirsutism is a condition of unwanted, male-type hair growth in women. It is characterized by the appearance of hard, pigmented hairs on parts of the body where men usually experience hair growth – the face, chest and back.

A woman’s body hair volume is largely determined by her genes. Excess body hair can be caused by increased levels of male sex hormones called androgens, mainly testosterone. The condition may also be due to a hereditary predisposition.

A combination of self-care and medical therapy provides treatment for many women with excess hair.

What are the symptoms?

The condition is associated with pigmented body hair where women normally do not develop hair – mainly on the face, chest and back.

With excessively high levels of androgens, which are the cause of excess hair, other signs may develop over time. The process is referred to as virilization.

Signs of virilization can be:

• Baldness;
• Appearance of acne;
• Reduction in breast size;
• Enlargement of the clitoris;
• Voice gradually acquires a masculine type;< /strong>

What are the reasons?

At puberty, girls’ ovaries begin to release both male and female sex hormones. This causes the appearance of hair in the armpits and around the genitals. Unwanted hair appears when the balance between the two types of hormones is disturbed and the secretion of more male sex hormones – androgens.

Unwanted hair growth can be caused by:

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – this is a common condition that is caused by an imbalance of sex hormones, which can lead to irregular periods, obesity, infertility, and sometimes multiple cysts in the ovaries.
Cushing’s syndrome – the disease develops when your body is exposed to high levels of the hormone cortisol. It can develop when the adrenal glands synthesize too much cortisol.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia – this hereditary disease is characterized by abnormal secretion of steroid hormones – cortisol and androgen by the adrenal glands.< br/> • Tumors – rarely, an androgen-secreting tumor of the ovaries or adrenal glands can cause excess hair.
Medications – some drugs such as danazol , which is used to treat women with endometriosis.
Sometimes unwanted hair can appear without any reason. It occurs in certain population groups, such as women from the Mediterranean region, the Middle East or South Asia.

Treatment of hirsutism

Treatment is often a combination of self-medication, therapies to remove unwanted hair, and medication.

Medications

When drug therapy is started, it usually takes several months before a significant difference in hair growth is noticed. The most commonly used medications are:

Oral contraceptives – birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptives that contain estrogen and progestin, which suppress the synthesis of androgens by the ovaries. Oral contraceptives are used only in women who do not wish to become pregnant. Possible side effects are dizziness, nausea, headache and upset stomach.
Anti-androgens – these drugs block the attachment of androgens to their receptors in a woman’s body. The anti-androgen spironolactone is most often used. These drugs can cause malformations of the fetus, so it is important when the therapy with them is carried out that contraceptives are used.

Procedures to remove unwanted hair

Electrolysis – a small needle is introduced into each hair follicle, which emits an electrical impulse that damages and subsequently destroys the follicle;
Laser therapy – highly a concentrated beam of light is directed at the skin and damages hair follicles and prevents hair growth;

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