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ask: Is there a cure for hirsutism?

By Anonymous
 
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Haven't received official diagnosis yet, but I may have a pit. adenoma. My endocrinologist said my prolactin is extremely high and he can't understand why I don't lactate. My estrogen is almost non existant, and apparently I have free flowing testosterone. I think cortisol was fine. I have hirtuism because of all this and it is just getting worse. It's to the point that I have to shave my face everyday, same as a man does. The thickness, as well as dark color, make for an undeniable 5 o'clock shadow, too. Two years ago it wasn't nearly this bad; so what about 2 years from now? This is so humiliating. Meds didn't do anything to minimize the hair growth either. Is there ANYTHING that we keep me from literally turning into a "bearded lady"?

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Anonymous

I know how you feel. I have quite a bad case of Hisutism myself. Although, I am 13 years old now, and cannot get laser, and have no allowance to pay for wax or hair removal products. This might sound disgusting, but it's gotten so bad to the point that I have hair on my butt. I feel completely gross. I have a disrupted menstrual cycle (which are also Hisutism side-effects) . I could get my period every six months, or every two weeks. It's so unpredictable. I don't think that I should be taking pills at my age, but I really don't want to be brought down by this anymore. It's drained all my confidence

March 27, 2010 - 2:34pm
Diane Porter

Anon, welcome to EmpowHer, and thank you so much for your question.

No, there's not really a cure, because hirsutism isn't a disease; it's more of a symptom in itself. You have to find and address the underlying problem in order to address the hirsutism. I cannot even imagine how frustrating this must be for you; I have a few extra questions I'd like to ask:

Is the endocrinologist the only doctor are you seeing? Has she or he also suggested working with a dermatologist?

What kind of meds have you been put on that aren't working for you?

Has your doctor spoken of trying to balance your hormones, i.e. giving you either bio-identical or synthetic estrogen and progestin to balance the testosterone? Or perhaps putting you on birth control pills, a fairly common treatment for it?

May I ask how old you are? Are you in perimenopause or menopause? Have you had any gynecological surgery, like a hysterectomy, for instance?

For those who don't know, hirsutism is a disorder where women grow male-pattern hair, in excess of what is desired. It is something that affects about 10 percent of the female population, according to the Mayo Clinic. Here's their page on it:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hirsutism/DS00858

Do you have other symptoms of hirsuitism, like balding, a deepening voice, decreased breast size, increased clitoris size, acne, or increased muscle mass? Do you have periods, and if so, are they regular?

Here is some more from their website on causes of hirsuitism:

"About half the women with mild hirsutism have high androgen levels, and the other half do not. Hirsutism that's severe is usually due to high androgen levels. Conditions that can cause high androgen levels include:

■ Polycystic ovary syndrome. This common condition is caused by an imbalance of sex hormones, resulting in irregular periods, obesity, infertility and sometimes, multiple cysts on your ovaries. Polycystic ovary syndrome is the most common identifiable cause of hirsutism.

■ Cushing's syndrome. Cushing's syndrome is a condition that occurs when your body is exposed to high levels of the hormone cortisol, a steroid hormone involved in your body's response to stress. It can develop when your adrenal glands — small hormone-secreting glands located just above your kidneys — make too much cortisol, or it can occur from taking cortisol-like medications over a long period. Increased cortisol levels disrupt the balance of sex hormones in your body, which can result in hirsutism.

■ Congenital adrenal hyperplasia. This inherited condition is characterized by abnormal production of steroid hormones, including cortisol and androgen, by your adrenal glands.

■ Tumors. Rarely, the cause of hirsutism may be an androgen-secreting tumor in the ovaries or adrenal glands.

■ Medications. Some medications can cause hirsutism. One such drug is danazol, which is used to treat women with endometriosis."

Do you have any of those conditions?

Here's a page on hirsutism that names quite a few medicines that have been used with varying degrees of success. It also includes some things that you can do with diet, vitamins and minerals that may help. I'll include it in case there are some you might want to ask your doctor(s) about:

http://www.ovarian-cysts-pcos.com/hirsutism.html

And because it's often associated with Cushing's, here's some good information on it:

http://www.cushings-help.com/hirsuitism-treatment.htm

Let me know if any of this is helpful or if we're barking up the wrong tree. I'd like to be able to give you some solid information to ask your doctor about, or else get more information from you so we can ask one of our experts.

Take care, and please write back.

June 8, 2009 - 8:27am
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