Men and women have been created differently and the manner in which their bodies develop conditions is also different. Then there are certain conditions, which affect only men and not women and vice versa. One condition that affects only women is menopause, and with this condition, there are often several other problems that come along with it.
Hirsutism is a condition, where there is an excessive growth of hair – the hair is similar to the kind that would normally grow on your head, but they are present in areas where normally, there would be only fine hair. The pattern of growth is similar to that of men and leads to hair growth on the face, back and chest. What is worrisome is the fact that this condition is seen in women and it can be mild, moderate or even severe in nature.
While the condition is not life threatening, it can be quite difficult to handle for a woman, physically and more so psychologically. Most women might not even consider meeting a doctor, because they consider the situation extremely embarrassing. However, the condition can be controlled with medical assistance, which is why if you are noticing too much hair on your body, then you need to meet a doctor as soon as possible.
What causes hirsutism:
There are two kinds of hormones – androgen, which is the male hormone and estrogen, which is the female hormone. Naturally, men have a little bit of estrogen in their body, while women also have some amount of androgen in theirs. However, when there is an imbalance of the hormones, trouble starts creeping in. The severity of the condition will depend on how high the levels of androgens are in the body as well as how sensitive the hair follicles are.
Normally, the higher level of male hormones in a women’s body can be attributed to a condition commonly known as PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome. Women who are suffering from PCOS will not only have to face hirsutism, but also other problems such as severe acne, irregular menstrual cycle, obesity and even an increased risk of becoming diabetic.
In addition, if women are taking anabolic steroids, then too, they could be at risk of developing hirsutism. Adrenal gland malfunction can also cause this condition. In case, there is no imbalance in the hormones, yet there is hirsutism, it could be a condition that is known as idiopathic hirsutism and this term is given, when the exact cause cannot be pinpointed.
The when and why of measuring androgen levels:
If the hirsutism is really mild, there would be no point to measuring the androgen levels, because the same would not even be visible and chances are that even the symptoms would not be too obvious. However, if the hirsutism is moderate, severe or progressing very quickly, then a test would make sense. In addition, if there are any other symptoms such as obesity or irregularity in the menstrual cycle, along with hirsutism, then checking the androgen levels could be imperative.
Managing and treating hirsutism:
In many cases, women prefer managing the condition on their own, by trying out methods of hair removal at home. Waxing, plucking, shaving, bleaching or hair removal creams are all methods which can be tried at home, without too many side effects. However, these are all methods which give temporary results and the hair will return after a while.
If the hair is truly excessive, then one can turn to a doctor and look for clinical methods of hair removal, such as laser or electrolysis. The actual method will be decided only once the extent of hair growth has been examined by a professional.
- Cosmetic methods of managing hirsutism – Perhaps the easiest methods of managing hirsutism would be cosmetic ones, which would include bleaching and temporary methods of hair removal. While bleaching would lighten the hair, making them less visible, it could lead to irritation and itching. You could consider other methods of temporary hair removal, such epilators, shaving or hair removal creams. These will help remove the hair, but you need to remember that hair will grow back.
- Medication to manage hirsutism – There are certain medicines that have proven to be effective in manging excessive hair, such as certain birth control pills. As these medications are known to reduce the male hormone in the body, they can help with the excessive hair too. In addition, birth control pills are also known to help regulate irregular menstrual cycles. However, before you start popping the pills, you need to consult a doctor. There is also the option of anti-androgens, which are meant to block the production of male hormones.
- Direct hair removal – There are options such as laser hair removal, electrolysis and photoepilation, which can remove hair effectively and inhibit their growth for a longer time. These treatments too should be done only with the advice of a doctor and at a location which has been approved by the appropriate authorities. A good doctor will be able to choose the best method of hair removal, based on your skin and hair type.
What you can do to help with the treatment process:
In order for your treatment to be effective, you need to provide all the essential information to your doctor, including your medical history, surgeries you might have undergone and the medications you are on. Make sure that you talk to your doctor, you elaborate on all the symptoms. Discuss the treatment options in detail and make sure that you pick one that you are willing to see through and are comfortable with.