Causes of Facial Hair Growth in Women

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This article outlines the most common causes of excessive facial hair growth in women (hirsutism) and suggests a few avenues for hair removal and growth reduction. The first step to solving any problem is identifying its cause.

1. Male Hormones

Females usually develop facial hair as a result of abnormally high levels of male hormones, called androgens. The most well-known of these hormones is perhaps testosterone, which is responsible for the development of secondary sexual characteristics in males. In females, they can stimulate hair growth and increase the thickness and pigmentation of hair. The reason for high androgen levels in healthy females is uncertain, but it is more than likely to be genetic—occurring more frequently in women of South Asian, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean descent. Women with this problem also tend to be more muscular and have smaller breasts and deeper voices.

This form of facial hair growth can be reduced with the help of antiandrogen medications which helps reduce androgen production and block their receptors. Such medications should only be used in accordance with the instructions of a medical practitioner.

2. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is the reason for more than 70 percent of hirsutism cases. It is a condition characterized by the formation of benign masses called cysts in the ovaries, an imbalance in the levels of the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone and increased androgen production. Its many symptoms include increased hair growth on the face, chest, hands, feet and stomach, deeper voice, acne, infertility and depression.

While treatment for PCOS is not curative, there are several options available for controlling symptoms. If you suspect that you may have PCOS, you should consult your doctor immediately as early diagnosis can help deter long term problems.

3. Obesity

Obesity and the consumption of large amounts of sugary foods can cause insulin resistance in body cells and therefore increased insulin production. This causes increased androgen production in the ovaries.

4. Cushing Syndrome

This syndrome occurs due to unusually high levels of the stress hormone; cortisol. Though it often occurs as a result of overuse of corticosteroid medications, there are many natural causes as well. In addition to increased facial hair growth in females, sufferers may also experience weight gain, obesity, thirst, anxiety, headaches, easily bruised skin and skin injuries that heal very slowly. This is another serious medical condition and, so you must consult your doctor if you believe that you may have the disease.

5. Menopause

At the onset of menopause, estrogen production decreases significantly, while testosterone production does not, thereby offset the balance between the male and female sex hormones. A study conducted by the British Journal of Dermatology in 2011 found that about 40% of post-menopausal women experienced increased hair growth on their chins. If menopause is the likely cause of your facial hair growth, then the only way to deal with the issue is to remove the hair regularly through traditional methods (waxing, tweezing, creams etc.)

6. Medications

While hair loss is a common symptom of several medications, some are known to cause facial hair growth in females. These include anabolic steroids, certain birth control pills and Minoxidil (when taken in higher quantities).

7. Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia

This is a rare condition affecting hormone production in the adrenal glands which are located above the kidneys. Among other symptoms, the disease can cause strong male characteristics such as Facial Hair Growth to develop in girls.

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