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Hirsutism

Hirsutism (HUR-soot-iz-um) is a condition in women that results in excessive growth of dark or coarse hair in a male-like pattern — face, chest and back.

With hirsutism, extra hair growth often arises from excess male hormones (androgens), primarily testosterone.

Symptoms

Hirsutism is stiff or dark body hair, appearing on the body where women don't commonly have hair — primarily the face, chest, lower abdomen, inner thighs and back. People have widely varying opinions on what's considered excessive.

When high androgen levels cause hirsutism, other signs might develop over time, a process called virilization. Signs of virilization might include:

• Deepening voice

• Balding

• Acne

• Decreased breast size

• Increased muscle mass

• Enlargement of the clitoris

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Symptoms

Hirsutism is stiff or dark body hair, appearing on the body where women don't commonly have hair — primarily the face, chest, lower abdomen, inner thighs and back. People have widely varying opinions on what's considered excessive.

When high androgen levels cause hirsutism, other signs might develop over time, a process called virilization. Signs of virilization might include:

  • Deepening voice
  • Balding
  • Acne
  • Decreased breast size
  • Increased muscle mass
  • Enlargement of the clitoris

 

Complications:

Hirsutism can be emotionally distressing. Some women feel self-conscious about having unwanted hair. Some develop depression. Also, although hirsutism doesn't cause physical complications, the underlying cause of a hormonal imbalance can.

If you have hirsutism and irregular periods, you might have polycystic ovary syndrome, which can inhibit fertility. Women who take certain medications to treat hirsutism should avoid pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects.


Complications:

Hirsutism can be emotionally distressing. Some women feel self-conscious about having unwanted hair. Some develop depression. Also, although hirsutism doesn't cause physical complications, the underlying cause of a hormonal imbalance can.

If you have hirsutism and irregular periods, you might have polycystic ovary syndrome, which can inhibit fertility. Women who take certain medications to treat hirsutism should avoid pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects.