There is a considerable amount of variation in how much body or facial hair will normally occur. The variations are related to genetics, to age and to hormones. Excessive growth of hair is termed hirsutism. The excessive growth may occur gradually, as with menopause, or may occur rapidly in response to some medications.
Causes of Hirsutism
Women can develop hirsutism from the excessive production of androgens, or male hormones. These hormone can be produced in the ovary or the adrenal gland. Excessive hair may be seen with polycystic ovary syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia and adrenal or ovarian tumors. The onset of menopause may be associated with increased body hair in women. At times, no apparent cause is found. This is termed Idiopathic Hirsutism. Some drugs, such as dilantin or vitamins containing testosterone, can lead to increased body hair. Anorexia may be associated with increased body hair.
Signs and Symptoms of Hirsutism
Hirsutism in women is often associated with increased facial or body hair. It often occurs above the lip, on the sides of the face, or on the trunk. The hair thickens and darkens and grows in a male pattern. Sometimes, other symptoms are seen with women who become hirsute. These symptoms include irregular or absent menstruation, acne, deepening of the voice, and infertility problems. Men may also develop considerable body hair as they age.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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