Every human is born with millions of hair follicles on their body. Fortunately most of those hair follicles won’t grow “noticeable” hair, and unfortunately some of those millions of follicles will grow larger and longer hairs in the wrong area.
All hair growth is affected by your genetics, your health, and your hormones. In some cases it is wise to seek medical intervention for excess hair.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine provides A Guide for Patients with Hirsutism and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This guide describes the androgen sensitive sites for hair growth and lists the following causes of hirsutism.
- Excessive production of androgens by the ovaries (PCOS: Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, tumor)
- Excessive sensitivity of hair follicles to androgens (genetic)
- Excessive production of androgens by the adrenal glands (NCAH: Non-Classic Adrenal Hyperplasia, tumor)
- Insulin Resistance (HAIR-AN Syndrome: Hyperandrogenism, Insulin Resistance, Acanthosis Nigricans)
- Excessive production of cortisol by the adrenal glands (Cushing’s Syndrome)
The following pictures are representative of the Ferriman-Gallwey score – a method of quantifying and evaluating hirsutism in women.
Most women will notice hair growth on their face begin with a few scattered hairs on each side of their chin and a few at the corners of the mouth. If the hair growth progresses, it will follow the pattern you see above until there is a male-pattern growth on the face.
For more information, click to read Evaluation and Treatment of Hirsutism in Premenopausal Women: An Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline.
When is it time for a woman to call the doctor when she has unwanted hair growth?
1. When your hair growth comes on fast.
2. If you have an apple shaped body.
3. If you have menstrual irregularity or infertility.
4. If you begin to notice a darkening of your skin in the folds of your neck or underarms.
5. When you notice masculine changes in your body such as an enlargement of your clitoris or a deepening of your voice.