Chicago Health | Homepage
Women with excess hair look to heredity & hormones as cause

Women with excess hair look to heredity & hormones as cause

By Howard LeWine, M.D.

Q: I am a 20-year-old female. I have hair on my chest, back and stomach. I am wondering if I have a hormone problem. If so, is there a way to treat it?

A: About 10 percent of American women believe that they have more body hair than they should. Even more say they have more hair than they want.

The amount of hair you have is strongly influenced by the appearance of other women in your family and your ethnic background.

There is great variation in hair pattern in different ethnic groups and in people from different parts of the world. Mediterranean women and those from the Near East and India tend to have more body hair, but this is completely normal for them. Asian American and Native American women tend to have less body hair and that pattern is normal for them. There is also variation between families in the same ethnic group.

If your hair pattern does not run in your family, it is possible that there is a hormonal based cause.

All women produce some male hormones, called androgens. It would be helpful to know some specifics about where the hair growth is occurring. Androgens tend to stimulate hair growth in certain sites — the mustache or chin area, around the nipples, in the midline of the lower abdomen and on the arms and legs.

Excessive hair growth in these areas sometimes provides a clue that a woman is producing too much androgen or her skin is especially sensitive to normal levels of androgens. Doctors call this hirsutism.

Menstrual function and hair growth are very closely connected. If your menstrual periods have been regular, you very likely have idiopathic hirsutism. This means that the exact cause is unknown. However, if your periods are not regular and you have excessive body or facial hair, this suggests that there is increased androgen.

Medical treatments are available for women who have androgen-driven hirsutism. Cosmetic treatments can be very successful for excessive body and facial hair, no matter what the underlying cause.

(Howard LeWine, M.D. is an internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. For additional consumer health information, please visit www.health.harvard.edu.)

(c) 2015 PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLEGE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Know Your Breast Cancer Risk and Take Steps to Reduce It

Know Your Breast Cancer Risk and Take Steps to Reduce It

By Laura Drucker From a young age, women spend a lot of time thinking about their

Gaining Strength

Gaining Strength

Post-op exercises help breast cancer survivors win control By Nancy Maes When a woman is first diagnosed

Defending Yourself Against Ovarian Cancer, The Silent Killer

Defending Yourself Against Ovarian Cancer, The Silent Killer

By Kate Silver When Angelina Jolie Pitt had a double mastectomy in 2013 to prevent breast

Count ingredients, not calories

Count ingredients, not calories

By Sharon Palmer, R.D.N. Shift your focus from the calories label to the ingredients label, and

Pneumonia a leading cause of hospitalization for children

Pneumonia a leading cause of hospitalization for children

What Doctors Know Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Pneumonia puts thousands of young children

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

December 2016
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
November 27, 2016 November 28, 2016 November 29, 2016 November 30, 2016 December 1, 2016 December 2, 2016 December 3, 2016
December 4, 2016 December 5, 2016 December 6, 2016 December 7, 2016 December 8, 2016 December 9, 2016 December 10, 2016
December 11, 2016 December 12, 2016 December 13, 2016 December 14, 2016 December 15, 2016 December 16, 2016 December 17, 2016
December 18, 2016 December 19, 2016 December 20, 2016 December 21, 2016 December 22, 2016 December 23, 2016 December 24, 2016
December 25, 2016 December 26, 2016 December 27, 2016 December 28, 2016 December 29, 2016 December 30, 2016 December 31, 2016

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives