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Hirsutism is defined as “the excessive growth of thick dark hair in locations where hair growth in women usually is minimal or absent,” according to Medscape. The hair growth occurs in places that are typically associated with male pattern locations such as the face, back, chest and areolae. Other symptoms of hirsutism may be acne, voice deepening, and decreased breast size.
Medscape reported that 1 in 20 women of reproductive age has hirsutism. The cause of the excess hair growth may be related to an androgen (male hormone) imbalance in the woman. Hirsutism also occurs more often in certain ethnic groups such as those of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and South Asian ancestry.
Hormonal Causes of Hirsutism:
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome is the most common cause of hirsutism. In PCOS there is a hormone imbalance due to abnormalities in the metabolism and control of androgen and estrogen. PCOS results in other changes such as obesity, acne, irregular periods, infertility and multiple cysts on the ovaries.
Cushing syndrome occurs from overexposure to cortisone, a hormone produced in the body due to stress. This can happen because of a problem in the adrenal glands or it may be induced from taking the medication cortisone, which disrupts the balance of female to male hormones in the body.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia is an inherited adrenal gland disease that causes features similar to PCOS.
A tumor of the ovary or adrenal gland is rare, but can cause hirsutism.
Other hormone imbalances
Hirsutism can occur in those who have excess growth hormone, hypothyroidism, an overproduction of insulin, and elevated prolactin levels.
Hormone type drugs that are used to treat other conditions such as Danzol, which is given for endometriosis, can cause hirsutism.
Tests for Hirsutism: