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Hirsutism: Symptoms, Causes, And More


Male hormones are naturally produced by women which are known as androgens.

Hirsutism is a condition where fine, “vellus” hair follicles generate bigger, darker “terminal” hair as a result of elevated testosterone levels.

The most common cause of a woman having more male hormones than she should be an underlying endocrine disease, most frequently PCOS.

Women with the polycystic ovarian syndrome may also have irregular or nonexistent menstrual cycles and infertility in addition to hirsutism.

Among women with PCOS, obesity, a higher risk of diabetes, and acne are also prevalent. Hirsutism is the term used to describe the excessive development of “male” pattern hair on the face, chest, back, thighs, and belly of females. 

Weight gain is undoubtedly a factor in the development or deterioration of PCOS in females. The quality of life may be increased by using treatments that could assist reduce and halt hair growth.

In this article, we will be looking at all about hirsutism.

What is hirsutism?

In Hirsutism, women develop more coarse body hair on their bodies in a pattern resembling that of men. It matters what kind of abundant hair it is.

Increased amounts of soft hair are more indicative of nonhormonal hair growth factors, which are more prevalent in certain ethnic groups.

While an increase in coarse, frequently black hair like that found in the pubic region is more suggestive of a hormonal reason for the hair growth.

This frequently happens on the face, midline chest, back, inner thigh, buttocks, and lower belly. Arm hair may also turn darker, giving the appearance[1] of more thickness.

Adults have two types of hair: terminal hair, which is long, harsh, and dark, and vellus hair, which is typically soft, short, fine, and colorless.

Women have vellus hair on their faces, chests, arms, and backs, with terminal hair often restricted to the armpits and pelvic area.

Men have terminal hairs all over their bodies because their levels of androgen hormone are much higher than those of women (usually 3-18 times higher).

A woman’s soft, vellus hairs may change into terminal hairs, a condition known as hirsutism, if her hair follicles are exposed to high androgen levels or if they become more sensitive to normal androgen levels.

Symptoms Of Hirsutism

The main symptom of hirsutism is thick, dark hair growing[2] in any of the following areas:

  • Face
  • Chest
  • Lower back
  • Abdomen
  • Thighs
  • Bottom
  • Neck

The causes of hirsutism symptoms could be genetic in origin or could stem from an underlying disease or issue.

One of the most prevalent signs of hirsutism is an excessive amount of hair development in the face, chin, chest, upper lip, upper back, sternum, shoulders, and lower belly.

In addition to these, additional notable signs of hirsutism include:

  • Hail loss and receding hairline
  • Heavier than normal feminine voice
  • Enlarged clitoris
  • Acne and oily skin

Causes Of Hirsutism

Androgen hormones are the main culprits behind excessive hair growth in women.

If your body produces more androgens than usual or if you are more susceptible to them than the ordinary person, you could develop hirsutism.

The majority of females who experience excessive hair growth suffer from the polycystic ovarian syndrome, which affects their ovaries.

PCOS could also cause irregular or nonexistent periods, head hair loss, weight gain, and acne. Fertility issues may also affect women with PCOS.

Sometimes, the cause isn’t always clear, but it’s still worth speaking to your doctor. In rare cases, hirsutism might be brought on by the following:

  1. Cushing’s Syndrome

    A hormonal imbalance may result in bloating of the face and neck as well as uncontrollable[3] weight gain.

  2. Congenital Adrenal Hyperplesia

    A hereditary disorder could affect the adrenal glands that produce[4] hormones. They are located above the kidneys.

  3. Obesity

    When someone is overweight, that condition could be termed[5] obesity.

  4. Acromegaly

    A condition in which your body triggers[6] more growth hormone production.

  5. Certain Medications

    Some people use certain medications like anabolic steroids to enhance their athletic prowess and gain muscle.

  6. Tumor Growth

    It can increase the synthesis of androgens and affect[7] the adrenal glands or ovaries.

Diagnosis Of Hirsutism

Hirsutism is diagnosed by reviewing a patient’s medical history, which enables us to determine the beginning date of hair growth, hair loss, or acne as well as the subsequent evolution, the beginning date of the first menstruation, and the periodicity of the succeeding ones.

To measure the length, thickness, and quantity of the hair, and to evaluate it by areas by international standards, a thorough physical examination is required.

According to the medical history and the examination, it is decided which hormones may have a role between the second and ninth day of the menstrual cycle.

Determining testosterone, androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate, sex hormone carrier protein, 17-hydroxyprogesterone, luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulant, and glucuronide is typically necessary.

It is advised to conduct an ACTH stimulation test if late adrenal hyperplasia is suspected.

Treatment Of Hirsutism

Staining and hair removal are two examples of practical physical procedures that could be used in conjunction with medication therapy. Treatment should aim as close as possible to the root of the problem.

Reduced weight and, if excessive, reduced body fat are desirable therapeutic goals that call for hygienic food practices and good lifestyle[8] choices.

It is only possible to treat both hirsutism and infertility simultaneously in conditions where steroid therapy is indicated, such as both classic and late-onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

Removal of androgen-producing tumors is advised, along with specialized care for hyperprolactinemia, acromegaly, and Cushing’s syndrome.


Although hirsutism is generally described as excessive hairiness, the term is most frequently used in clinical contexts to describe females who have excessive amounts of terminal hair growing in a masculine pattern.

In this regard, hirsutism, which affects about 8% of women in the United States, is one of the most prevalent endocrine disorders.

The hairiness in these women suggests the existence of aberrant androgen action, which could indicate a major or, more likely, a less serious medical issue.

Whatever the etiology, hirsutism may cause psychological trauma and emotional distress.

The patient and others may perceive even moderate episodes of hirsutism as a presumed lack of femininity. Hirsutism could be a serious cosmetic issue in more extreme situations.

Rule out a serious underlying medical disease and creating a treatment plan are the main goals in the management of hirsutism.


Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. Wissem Hafsi and Talel Badri. Hirsutism. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470417/
  2. Is hair texture determined by genetics? Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/traits/hairtexture/
  3. Cushing disease. Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/cushing-disease/
  4. Cleo Dessinioti and Andreas Katsambas. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Dermatoendocrinol. 2009 Mar-Apr; 1(2): 87–91. doi: 10.4161/derm.1.2.7818
  5. Farahnaz Fatemi Naeini, Jamshid Najafian, and Noushin Jazebi. Hirsutism and body mass index in a representative sample of Iranian people. ARYA Atheroscler. 2012 Spring; 8(1): 43–54.
  6. Rajesh Jain, Deep Dutta, KS Shivaprasad, et. al. Acromegaly presenting as hirsuitism: Uncommon sinister aetiology of a common clinical sign. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Dec; 16(Suppl 2): S297–S299. doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.104066
  7. Jayshree Swain, Shruti Sharma, Ved Prakash, et. al. Steroid cell tumor: a rare cause of hirsutism in a female. Endocrinol Diabetes Metab Case Rep. 2013; 2013: 130030. Published online 2013 Sep 16. doi: 10.1530/EDM-13-0030.
  8. Silonie Sachdeva. HIRSUTISM: EVALUATION AND TREATMENT. Indian J Dermatol. 2010 Jan-Mar; 55(1): 3–7. doi: 10.4103/0019-5154.60342

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