Have you noticed more hair on your face, chest or back than you are comfortable with? While facial hair is quite common for women, the amount and type of hair may be more telling of an underlying health condition. Normally, facial hair on women, is fine and faint in color. For women with excessive hair growth on the face, chest and back, the condition is called Hirsutism. In this case, the hair is typically thicker, darker and coarser than your normal hair. It tends to grow in a male-type pattern. Certain health conditions can lead to hirsutism:
Cushing syndrome - caused by high levels of cortisol.
Congenital adrenal hyperplasia - usually inherited, it is caused by abnormal production of hormones in the adrenal glands.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) - imbalance of sex hormones, characterized by irregular periods, multiple cysts on ovaries (but not always) and typically starts at puberty.
Ovarian hyperthecosis- ovaries produce excessive amounts of testosterone, commonly presents in postmenopausal women.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention other causes of hirsutism, such as, obesity (especially in conjunction with PCOS), tumors and medication. Family history and/or ancestry are also factors to be considered.
The health conditions listed above are all indicative of a hormonal imbalance of some kind. Often excessive androgens (male hormones) are the culprit and may lead to increased testosterone levels (which causes the abnormal hair growth). Keep in mind, testosterone plays many important roles in women's health, growth and maintenance of reproductive tissues and bone mass to name a few.
Here's my concern: increased testosterone levels!
If you've noticed or suspect that your testosterone level continues to increase over time or has abruptly increased, consult your practitioner. Abnormally high testosterone levels can be associated with among many things: an increased risk of heart disease; insulin resistance (which leads to weight gain, depression and anxiety); an increased risk of diabetes and an increased chance of sleep apnea (and let's remember the conditions previously listed above).
Don't be ashamed to ask about the ugly hair growing on your face. Be proactive. Get your testosterone level measured and have the results before your appointment with your practitioner. Better still, get an annual female hormone panel drawn. ARCpoint Labs of Douglasville makes 100s of labs available to you at great prices. We will take care of the orders for you and the results will be forwarded as per your request!
The more you know....... edie