Facial Hair in Women

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We’ve all seen it and up to 10% of you have it: facial hair. I’m not talking about normal peach fuzz. I’m talking about a full on mustache or beard-like hairs that you shave, pluck, wax, or laser away.

Why do you get these excess and usually embarrassing hairs?
It’s an excess of androgens. The androgen you probably know is testosterone. There are other types circulating in your body as well. The names of these that you probably don’t even want to know are androstenedione and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate.

Androgens cause soft and short hairs to be converted into dark and coarse hairs. The hairs that are affected are usually on your upper lip (mustache), chin (beard), sideburns (beard again), chest (argh), and lower abdomen (have you ever heard the phrase “happy trail”? – if not, email me and I will explain).

The most common reason a woman would have excess androgens, causing this unwanted hair, is polycystic ovarian syndrome. With PCOS, you will likely have noticeable problems with you period as well – like not having a period for months. You may also unfortunately notice male pattern balding or acne.

So what to do about this?
Obviously see your gynecologist to help figure out your diagnosis. After questions, a whole exam, a bunch of blood tests, and probably an ultrasound too, we should be able to give you an answer.

If you do get a diagnosis of PCOS, the mainstay of treatment is birth control pills, which can help subside most of the symptoms. Easy as that (well, it’s not always that easy, but it can be).

With the excess facial hair: treating your PCOS will hopefully and likely stop more unsightly hair from growing, but it won’t get rid of the hairs you already have. Those dark hair producing follicles will continue to produce them. So … some permanent solution, like laser treatment, is probably the best bet.

Source: Williams gynecology textbook

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