Hirsutism is a medical anomaly that brings about excessive growth of hair in uncharacteristic parts of the body. It’s a condition that affects both males and females, although it’s more prevalent among the latter. Female hirsutism, for the most part, is the result of hormonal imbalance, often associated with adrenal gland disorders or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Other causes of hirsutism include medications, genetic factors, and tumors. The symptoms of this condition can be debilitating, leading to distress, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Nevertheless, there’s a glimmer of hope as various treatments are available for treating hirsutism. From hormonal therapy to topical treatments and laser hair removal, there’s a solution for those battling excessive hair growth. Join us in this blog as we dive deep into the definition, causes, and treatments of hirsutism.
Causes of Hirsutism
Hirsutism is a condition characterized by excessive hair growth in women in areas where hair typically does not grow, such as the face, chest, back, or abdomen. There are several possible causes of hirsutism, including:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is the most common cause of hirsutism. It is a hormonal disorder characterized by the presence of multiple cysts on the ovaries and high levels of androgens (male hormones) in the body. Excess androgen production can lead to hirsutism.
- Idiopathic hirsutism: In some cases, the exact cause of hirsutism cannot be determined. This is known as idiopathic hirsutism. It may be a result of increased sensitivity of hair follicles to normal levels of androgens.
- Medications: Certain medications can cause hirsutism as a side effect. Examples include anabolic steroids, corticosteroids, and some medications used to treat epilepsy or cancer.
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH): CAH is a group of inherited disorders that affect the adrenal glands, leading to an overproduction of androgens. Hirsutism can be a symptom of CAH.
- Cushing’s syndrome: Cushing’s syndrome occurs when the body is exposed to high levels of the hormone cortisol over an extended period. It can be caused by the use of corticosteroid medications or by tumors that produce cortisol. Hirsutism can be a feature of Cushing’s syndrome.
- Tumors: Rarely, tumors in the ovaries or adrenal glands can lead to the overproduction of androgens, causing hirsutism.
- Acromegaly: Acromegaly is a hormonal disorder characterized by the overproduction of growth hormones. Hirsutism can be a feature of this condition.
- Hyperinsulinemia: Elevated insulin levels, often associated with conditions like obesity or insulin resistance, can contribute to increased androgen production and hirsutism.
What are the treatment options for hirsutism?
- Hormonal Therapy: The scourge of female hirsutism caused by hormonal imbalances such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or adrenal gland disorders can be quelled with hormonal therapy. This involves the use of medications that regulate hormone levels, such as birth control pills, anti-androgens, and glucocorticoids. Hormonal therapy can bring reprieve from excess hair growth and improve the appearance of skin.
- Topical Treatments: Eflornithine cream is a salve in the fight against hirsutism that inhibits hair growth by blocking the enzyme responsible for hair growth. It’s effective in reducing the growth of facial hair and is usually used in combination with other treatments.
- Laser Hair Removal: The laser beams illuminate the battlefield against hirsutism as they obliterate hair follicles, resulting in reduced hair growth. This treatment is more effective for individuals with darker hair and lighter skin tones.
- Electrolysis: The electric current is a formidable weapon in the arsenal against hirsutism. Electrolysis is an invasive and targeted method of hair removal that utilizes a controlled electric current to effectively destroy hair follicles. It can be used on any skin and hair type but can be time-consuming and may require multiple sessions.
- Medications: Some medications used to treat other conditions, such as corticosteroids and anti-seizure drugs, can also be effective in treating hirsutism. These medications work by regulating hormone levels in the body.
- Surgery: In rare cases, the only recourse in the battle against hirsutism may be the removal of the ovaries or adrenal glands responsible for hormone production.
What is the link between hirsutism and PCOS?
The insidious effects of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) are felt by many women who are plagued by the excessive hair growth known as hirsutism. This hormonal disorder, caused by an imbalance of androgens and estrogens, can result in a range of symptoms, including irregular menstrual cycles and infertility. But it’s the unsightly hair growth on the face, chest, and back that can cause the most embarrassment and self-consciousness.
The root cause of hirsutism is the overproduction of androgens, which stimulate hair follicles to produce thick, dark hair. The resulting physical appearance can be downright distressing, leading many women to seek out medical treatment to alleviate their symptoms.
Thankfully, a range of treatments are available for hirsutism in PCOS, including hormonal therapy and lifestyle changes. These treatments can help regulate hormone levels, reduce hair growth, and improve overall quality of life.
Despite the challenges posed by PCOS and hirsutism, there is hope for those affected. With proper medical care and a commitment to healthy living, women can take control of their symptoms and regain their confidence and self-esteem.
How to improve self-confidence and self-love in the case of hirsutism?
- Find kinship in others: Seeking out a community of those who share your experience of female hirsutism and its symptoms of excessive hair growth can provide solace in knowing you’re not alone in your struggles. Through shared stories and empathetic connections, you can gain invaluable advice and insight.
- Honour your unique self: Amidst the cacophony of negative symptoms, such as unwanted hair growth, try to elevate your focus towards the things you love about yourself. Celebrate the uniqueness of your being, and don’t forget to remind yourself of them often.
- Nurture thyself: Attending to your physical health can act as a crucial catalyst towards renewed confidence and relief from symptoms of hirsutism. This may entail incorporating daily exercise, a balanced diet, and good hygiene habits into your routine. Pamper yourself with indulgences like a spa day or stylish new attire for an added boost.
- Educate yourself on treatment options: Being well-informed on the treatments available for symptoms of hirsutism, such as hormonal therapy or laser hair removal, can instill a sense of control over your condition. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine the most effective treatment for your unique situation.
- Envelop yourself in positivity: Surrounding yourself with uplifting people and influences can elevate your mood and perspective on life, a vital factor when managing symptoms of hirsutism. Embrace inspiring media, literature, and podcasts that fill you with confidence and hope.
The path of female hirsutism and its accompanying symptoms of excessive hair growth can be tumultuous. However, it’s crucial to prioritize self-care and self-love. By seeking a community of those who share your experience, honoring your unique being, attending to your physical health, staying informed on treatment options, and enveloping yourself in positivity, you can build renewed confidence and strength as you journey through hirsutism.
Female hirsutism and the accompanying excessive hair growth can be a formidable foe. It takes grit and determination to face such a challenge head-on. However, with the right guidance and treatment, there is always hope for improvement. Seeking out the wisdom and expertise of an endocrinologist is a wise choice, as they can provide valuable insight into the underlying causes of hirsutism and offer effective treatment options to manage and alleviate its symptoms. Remember to care for yourself throughout this journey and find strength in the community of those who share your experience. Don’t let hirsutism dull your shine, make an appointment with a knowledgeable endocrinologist, such as the renowned Dr. Moxit Shah, and take control of your well-being.