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Women: What excessive hair growth says about your health

26 May 2015, 11:22 Winnie Mwirikia

Both men and women have hair all over their bodies, including the face although the normal amount of body hair for women varies.

In a woman, it’s unusual for coarse hairs to sprout on the face, chest, belly, or around the nipples. Most of the time, a woman only has fine hair, or peach fuzz, above the lips and on the chin, chest, abdomen, or back. If you have coarse, dark hairs in these areas, such hair growth is more typical of men and could be a signifier of a health problem.

The most obvious effect is that many women find it bothersome, or even embarrassing.

Hirsutism is an ignored serious symptom/problem but could say a lot about your health. An increase in facial hair can have many causes.

Nairobi based Gynecologist, Dr. S. Mutiso says that excessive hair growth could indicate the presence of Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

"This hormonal imbalance is linked to changes in the levels of estrogen, progesterone, and especially androgen (a male hormone). Women normally produce low levels of androgens. If your body makes too much of this hormone, you may have unwanted hair growth.

Tumors of the adrenal glands or the ovaries can also produce androgens. Tumors are rare and typically cause extremely high levels of male hormone with striking physical changes, such as more severe hair growth and enlargement of muscles.’’  

Other male-like symptoms include weight gain, decreased breast size, an enlarged clitoris, thinning hair or even balding, and a deepening voice. Women with PCOS and other hormone conditions that cause unwanted hair growth may also have acne, problems with menstrual periods, trouble losing weight, and diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. They can also be overweight.

In addition to excessive hair growth, one can experience irregular menstrual cycles and infertility can result in the long run.

Read Also: Does being fat affect your brain?

Some medications can also cause hirsutism too - Oral contraceptives containing norgestrel may cause mild hair growth.

However, in some cases, it may not be due to any serious imbalance of hormones but simply a normal side effect of aging! If you compare the facial hair of women at the age of 40 with that of a 20-year-old, there are subtle increases. These increases in hair growth may be bothersome, but they're generally part of the normal skin changes associated with aging, and aren't connected with an increase in male hormone levels.

Hirsutism is a long-term problem though it can be treated with medication and a number of other ways to remove or treat unwanted hair which include:

-Loosing weight. Try losing some weight. Weight loss in overweight women can reduce hair growth.

-Bleaching or lightening hair may make it less noticeable.

-Shaving regularly to hide the appearance of hair can work though you have to do it frequently.

-Plucking and waxing are fairly safe and are not expensive. However, they can be painful and there is a risk for scarring, swelling, and skin darkening.

-Seek professional medication from your gynecologist.

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