What Is Hirsutism?

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When you’re looking at yourself in the mirror as a woman, there’s something you never want to see: thick, black hair on your jaw or upper lip. Unfortunately, some women live with this reality every day. They have a condition known as hirsutism. Hirsutism affects approximately 5-10% of the female population. It’s an endocrine disorder, one of the most common, and results in women with male-pattern hair. For many hirsute women, it’s an embarrassing condition that requires frequent shaving.

There is some good news, though. Hirsutism treatment may be able to mitigate the effects. Lifestyle changes may be able to stop it completely.

In this guide, we discuss what hirsutism is, what causes it, and how you can treat it.

What Is Hirsutism?

Hirsutism is a condition of excessive hair growth, particularly with a male pattern. That is, hair that grows in places more common for men–but not in women.

This condition tends to affect AFAB (assigned female at birth). AMAB (assigned male at birth) rarely suffer from it. If they do, they likely attribute it to genetics, not hirsutism.

Hirsutism Symptoms

Thick, dark, male-pattern hair springs up in those with hirsutism. Hair may grow in the following places:

  • Upper lip, chin, and jaw
  • Arms
  • Chest and abdomen
  • Thighs and lower legs

There isn’t just normal hair growth in these areas, either. The hair is coarse, thick, and dark. It tends to replace the vellus hair (peach fuzz), which most women have.

Other symptoms may occur, such as the following:

  • Reduction in breast size
  • Deepening of the voice
  • Increase in muscle growth
  • Enlargement of the clitoris (clitoromegaly)
  • Sex drive increase
  • Above average acne

How Common Is It?

As we’ve said, approximately 5 to 10% of the population has hirsutism. However, it affects women differently over the course of their life. Some may only have it for a few years–some for life.

40% of women will have it at some point in their life. If you discover that you have hirsutism, do not panic. Most are able to treat it, and for others, it goes away on its own.

Are There Any Negative Effects?

No. Hirsutism is purely cosmetic and superficial. Women who have it will not suffer any adverse health issues as a result of hirsutism specifically.

However, there are some underlying conditions that may cause hirsutism. Based on these conditions–not hirsutism–a woman may have negative side effects.

Plain and simple, hirsutism is the result, not the cause.

What Causes This Condition for Hirsute Women?

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut reason why a woman may have hirsutism. It can originate from a number of conditions, lifestyle habits, medications, and so on. Each individual will have it for different reasons.

Let’s discuss some of the possible causes of hirsutism.

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)

One of the most likely causes of hirsutism is an imbalance in hormones. Hormones are the messengers of the body, responsible for instructing cells to perform their most important duties. In puberty, hormone development ramps up.

Women produce different amounts of estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. Unfortunately, an imbalance in these hormones can lead to significant issues. One of these is PCOS, occurring after puberty.

One of the symptoms of PCOS is excess hair growth. But it may also cause obesity, irregular periods, infertility, and ovarian cysts.

PCOS could, as a side-effect, cause hirsutism. If you have PCOS, treating it may treat your hirsutism, too.

Other Medical Conditions

There are many potential causes of hirsutism, too many to list. Here are some other conditions that may cause it:

  • Cushing syndrome: the body experiences abnormal levels of cortisol production
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: the body’s adrenal glands produce too many steroid hormones, i.e. androgen and cortisol
  • Tumors: ovarian or adrenal tumors can, in some cases, secrete androgen

Above-Average Androgen Production

Androgen is a hormone that is more common in males. It’s responsible for reproduction and growth but does appear in small amounts in the female body. Without it, people may have a lack of interest in sex, or general fatigue.

After doing bloodwork, you may discover that you have above-average androgen levels. Managing them could potentially mitigate or eliminate hirsutism.


Taking certain medications may cause or increase your risk of hirsutism. They may include any of the following:

  • Minoxidil
  • Rogaine
  • Testim
  • Androgel
  • Danazol
  • DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone)

Your partner’s medicinal decisions could be causing your hirsutism, as well. For example, you may have a partner using topical ointments that have androgen ingredients. These are then transmitted to you via skin-to-skin contact.

Hirsutism Treatment

The treatment for hirsutism will depend entirely on you. There are risk factors such as genetics and obesity. For some women, losing weight may be sufficient to stop their hirsutism.

Naturally, if you have one of the above conditions, you should focus on treating that. Getting proper treatment from your doctor may be all you need.

Treating Long-Term Hirsutism

Remember, many women have hirsutism at some point in their life, but most do not have it long-term. If you have a persistent case of hirsutism, though, there are options.

First, you can try topical ointments. Vaniqa Cream may be a successful treatment for your hirsutism.

Some women also go in for hair removal treatments. This can be either a short-term and long-term solution. It can remove hair temporarily as you are undergoing treatment, or if treatment has not given results.

Get Help with Kiwi Drug

Hirsute women experience male-patterned hair that grows thick and coarse–and is often a source of embarrassment. The causes of hirsutism are not clear, although there are conditions that likely provoke it. Luckily, if you have hirsutism, you have many options for treating it.

Kiwi Drug is your one-stop shop for medications to treat many common conditions. Contact us here for support so we can help you get the treatment you need.

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