Hair growth and loss often give us clues that something may be out of balance in our bodies. As a young woman, I had irregular periods and developed extra facial hair that I had removed by electrolysis. I had always had irregular periods and as a teenager was examined by doctors who could not find anything wrong. Many years later I was told I had polycystic ovaries which must have been the cause of that unwelcome mustache that tried to grow on my face.
Normally, our ovaries produce very small amounts of male hormones (androgens) in addition to the major female hormone of estrogen. However, in PCOS, this balance becomes disrupted and a greater amount of male hormone is produced. The increased male hormone level causes the ovaries to stop ovulating by suppressing estrogen production. Additionally, the male hormones can stimulate increased facial hair to grow that is thicker and darker than usual and even cause hair growth on other parts of the body such as the chest, back and abdomen. Some women develop facial acne despite being long past their teens.
The continued higher levels of male hormone can also contribute to hair thinning in women and possibly baldness in the same way this occurs to men. "Often these women are also suffering with polycystic ovary syndrome, and sometimes their hair loss is the only obvious sign." according to Ricardo Azziz, MD, director of the Center for Androgen-Related Disorders at the Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles reported in WebMD
Treatment for PCOS first pays attention to other common health issues that may occur with this syndrome such as high blood pressure, insulin regulation for diabetes risk and other hormone imbalances. There is no “cure” for PCOS.
In terms of controlling hair issues, treatment with birth control pills that regulate the body’s hormones may reduce facial hair and acne. If your hair and skin problems are more severe, doctors can add “Spironalactone” which will further reduce the androgen levels. Neither of these medications is used if pregnancy is desired.
Of course there are traditional hair removal methods such as the electrolysis, topical hair waxers or depilatories. Laser light is also a new method aimed to reduce hair growth though it can be expensive. There is even a prescription cream called Vaniqa to reduce facial hair your doctor can prescribe.
It can be frustrating for women who struggle with hair growth issues. Sometimes it is a relief just to know the reason behind excess growth or loss even though the original cause can not be solved.
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