Causes of excess facial hair in women

What causes female facial hair?

Body hair is something totally normal for both men and women. However, for women, thicker, darker hair is usually located under the arms, the pubic region and the legs. In some cases though, women experience hair growth around the face. 

 

What causes facial hair in women?

This kind of excess hair growth in women is known as hirsutism. With this condition, excess hair growth might happen on the face, chest, thighs, buttocks, back or stomach. The hair will be dark, or noticeable in colour. This happens due to the body producing more androgen hormones than usual, such as testosterone. Hirsutism is most commonly associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). 

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What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a long term condition and affects the way your ovaries work. Aside from having an increased level of male hormones, it also causes your periods to be irregular and irregularities in the ovaries. It’s fairly common and the symptoms can be treated but the main complication with this condition is being unable to get pregnant. 

The symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Having irregular periods
  • Never having a period
  • Weight gain
  • Excessive hair growth
  • Acne
  • Oily skin
  • Losing hair from the head

Speak to your GP if you have some of these symptoms.

 

Other causes of hirsutism 

Excess facial hair can be caused by other potential factors, but they are quite rare. These include:

  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Acromegaly
  • A tumour
  • Some types of medication 
  • Performance-enhancing steroids 

 

How is excess hair growth treated?

There are a couple of things you can do to control the hair growth if you are unhappy with the way it looks. You can remove it at home by waxing, plucking or using hair removal cream but there are preventative treatments you can use to stop hair from coming back or reduce the growth. These include:

  1. Vaniqa cream- this is a prescription treatment which slows down the growth of facial hair

  2. The combined contraceptive pill- the pill controls the hormones associated with your cycle and helps to regulate them

If you are overweight, a doctor might recommend that you lose weight as this will help to get your hormones under control. 

 

Sources

NHS> Excessive hair growth: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hirsutism/

NHS> Polycystic ovary syndrome: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos/

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