What Causes Facial Hair in Women?

Have you ever wondered what causes facial hair in women? If you grow coarse, dark hair on your upper lip, chin, or elsewhere on your face, you may have a condition known as hirsutism. It mainly affects women and people assigned female at birth (AFAB).

It’s actually reasonably common and affects between 5 and 10% of women. Whilst it can be quite distressing, hirsutism is treatable.

The team at Glow Medispa is well-versed in hirsutism and treatments for facial hair in women. Read on to learn a little bit more about this condition and how laser hair removal offered at our medical spa could have you looking and feeling your best.

What Are the Symptoms of Hirsutism?

Whilst the main symptom is coarse, dark hair growth in areas where women typically grow fine hair (or ‘peach fuzz’), another symptom is virilization. This is a condition whereby you develop the secondary sex characteristics of men and people assigned male at birth (AMAB).

Some of the secondary sex characteristics that virilization can cause include: a deeper voice, decreased breast size, increased muscle development, increased sex drive, and acne.

What is the Cause of Hirsutism?

Hirsutism doesn’t have a known cause in many cases, however, there are several factors that could lead someone to develop this condition. Excess facial hair in women and people AFAB could be caused by:

1. Hormones

Hirsutism is often linked to high levels of male hormones (or androgens). Whilst everyone’s bodies make androgens, levels are much higher in men and people AMAB. If the amounts are too high in people AFAB or if their hair follicles are more sensitive to androgens, it can cause hirsutism and virilization to occur.

2. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

This is a common hormonal condition that actually accounts for around 85% of hirsutism cases. It causes benign cysts to form on the ovaries, which can affect hormone production. Symptoms of PCOS besides hirsutism include: irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain or difficulty losing weight, acne, thinning hair, skin tags, and fertility problems.

3. Cushing’s Syndrome

This is a condition that occurs when your body has too much cortisol (or the ‘stress hormone’) for extended periods of time. It can impact the organs that are responsible for your hair, skin, nails, glands, and nerves (also known as the integumentary system). Other symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome include: rapid weight gain in the face, poorly healing wounds, and diabetes.

4. Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia

Another disorder affecting the adrenal glands, people with congenital adrenal hyperplasia are born without an enzyme that is necessary for hormone production and can cause hirsutism to develop.

5. Medications

Some medications can change your hormone levels and cause hirsutism, including: anabolic steroids, minoxidil (Rogaine), danazol (Danocrine), testosterone, cyclosporine (Sandimmune), and phenytoin (Dilantin).

6. Tumors

If a tumor were to occur in your adrenal glands (which produce hormones like cortisol) or your ovaries, this could also lead to hirsutism developing.

7. Postmenopause

The hormonal changes that take place in the body after menopause have also been known to cause women to develop facial hair.

What Are the Risk Factors for Hirsutism?

It is important to remember that hirsutism can affect anyone, at any age. There are, however, a few things that can make this condition more likely, including:

  • Family history (a family member who has also been diagnosed);
  • Ancestry (women and people AFAB from a Mediterranean, Middle Eastern or South Asian background); and
  • A PCOS diagnosis

If you suspect that you have hirsutism, make an appointment with your healthcare provider and discuss your concerns with them. They will conduct a physical examination and run any necessary tests.

What Are the Treatment Options for Hirsutism?

Facial hair in women and people AFAB that is the result of hirsutism is treatable. There are a number of treatment options, including:

  • Weight loss (often the first step, as this can lower your androgen levels and stop excessive hair growth);
  • Medications (such as birth control pills, androgen suppressants, low-dose steroids, and eflornithine skin cream); and
  • Hair removal (such as laser, electrolysis, shaving, waxing, tweezing, and bleaching).

Depending on the treatment option selected, it may take weeks or even months before you see any noticeable results. If the cause of your hirsutism is unknown or unable to be resolved, treatment may be a lifelong commitment.

Glow Medispa Treat Hirsutism with Laser Hair Removal

The team at Glow Medispa treats hirsutism using laser hair removal. This technique utilizes heat from a laser to damage hair follicles (as damaged follicles cannot produce hair, and the hair that’s present falls out). A number of treatments will be required, but laser hair removal can provide permanent or near-permanent results.

If you are ready to say goodbye to unwanted facial hair, give the team at Glow Medispa a call and book in your laser hair removal treatment today.


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