Most women have facial hair fuzz to deal with. However, if you have excessive growth that causes you pain, embarrassment and affects your self-image, it's time for permanent solution with electrolysis. While getting rid of the pesky problem, lets take a look at what could be causing the problem.
Excessive hair growth in areas in which men usually have hair, as in the face, chest, neck, or stomach, is called hirsutism. This typically indicates you have more male hormones (androgens) than you should.
Some women seem to experience extra hair growth during puberty, pregnancy, or as they age, especially after menopause, due to shifts in hormonal balance, with an increase in male hormones.
When you are pregnant, the levels of testosterone rise naturally, which may lead to hirsutism. The symptoms resolve after the baby’s birth when the testosterone levels go back to normal. During menopause, the ovaries secrete less and less estrogen while the production of testosterone continues unhindered. As a result, the levels of androgens in the body rise abnormally and lead to virilization or masculine features.
Some medications like anabolic steroids or birth control pills with progesterone may mess with your hormone levels and trigger hirsutism.
The most common cause of hirsutism in younger women is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a disorder that is characterized by high androgen levels and results in ovarian cysts and irregular periods.
Obesity is associated with high levels of free testosterone in women and may contribute to hirsutism. Excess abdominal fat in particular can result in insulin resistance. High levels of insulin may also enhance androgen production.
Adrenal or pituitary gland disorders that cause the over secretion of male hormones can be responsible for excessive hair. For instance, Adrenal hyperplasia or enlarged adrenal glands that results in the abnormal production of male hormones. Pituitary adenomas or non-cancerous tumors that secrete prolactin, a hormone associated with the production of androgens. Cushing syndrome which can be caused by tumors in the adrenal or pituitary glands.
Tumors affecting the adrenal or pituitary glands as well as certain tumors of the lungs, ovaries, or digestive tract can sometimes increase the secretion of androgens and cause hirsutism. Sometimes, a tumor in the pituitary gland could also result in excessive hair. So if you notice a sudden spurt of hairiness, you should always visit the doctor.
Genetic or Idiopathic Causes
Some cases of hirsutism are genetic. Women from certain ethnic groups are more prone to body hair and the cause is chiefly genetic. Even if you don’t belong to these ethnic groups, a little extra hair may run in your family.
If you have facial hair or male-pattern hair growth though your period cycle, though your androgen levels are normal and you have none of the above-mentioned causes, you probably have idiopathic hirsutism. This means that the exact cause for hirsutism is not known, though it is likely that there’s a disorder in the way androgens function in your body. About 20% of the cases of hirsutism are of this type. In this case, the hair growth starts after puberty and has a slow progression.
Caution: If you are experiencing a sudden and quick (within a few weeks or months) growth of excess hair, have developed other masculine features like a deepening of the voice, or are facing the absence of menstrual periods, you must see a doctor so that the underlying hormonal causes can be investigated and addressed.