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Hypertrichosis; Hirsutism; Hair - excessive (women); Excessive hair in women; Hair - women - excessive or unwanted
The normal amount of body hair varies widely among women. Usually, a woman will only grow fine hair (peach fuzz) on her lips, chin, chest, abdomen, or back. When women grow coarse, dark hairs in these areas, the condition is called hirsutism. This pattern of hair growth is more typical of men.
All women normally produce low levels of male hormones (androgens). Unwanted hair growth (hirsutism) in women may occur when the body makes too much male hormone.
In most cases, the exact cause is never identified. It tends to run in families. In general, hirsutism is a harmless condition. But many women find it bothersome, or even embarrassing.
A common cause is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Women with PCOS and other hormone conditions that cause unwanted hair growth may also have acne, problems with menstrual periods, trouble losing weight, a deeper voice similar to that of men, and diabetes. If these symptoms start suddenly, there may be a tumor that releases male hormones.
The following other causes of unwanted hair growth are rare:
Rarely a woman with hirsutism will have normal levels of male hormones, and the specific cause of the unwanted hair growth cannot be identified.
Martin KA, Chang RJ, Shrmann DA, Ibanez L, Lobo RA, Rosenfield RL, et al. Evaluation and treatment of hirsutism in premenopausal women: an endocrine society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008;93:1105-1120.
Lobo RA. Hyperandrogenism: Physiology, etiology, differential diagnosis, management. In: Katz VL, Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2007:chap 40.
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