Excess Hair Growth in Women Can Signal Serious Medical Problems
November 29, 2007
Not all unwanted hair growth is simply cosmetic. It can be symptomatic of serious underlying medical conditions which can impact health, well-being and even the reproductive health of many women.
Sharon Ortiz, President of The American Electrology Association, Inc. (AEA), the largest representative organization of professional electrologists in the United States, states “Women should be aware that unusual unwanted hair growth patterns or volume can be cause for some medical concern. Whether the condition is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), adrenal hyperplasia, thyroid dysfunction, or other endocrine disturbances, hair growth is often the symptom a woman will address first.”
The Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (southern CA) News, Feb. 4, 2004, cites a long-term study by the Center for Androgen Related Disorders in which Ricardo Azziz, MD, MPH, MBA, Director, notes that although androgen excess is recognized as the most common endocrine disorder among women in their reproductive years, its causes are not always easy to determine. In a large scale analysis of women with androgen excess, more than 80% suffered from hirsutism (excess hair growth), menstrual dysfunction and acne. Because most androgen excess disorders begin around the onset of puberty, most women appear to suffer without intervention. It was noted by researchers that “up to 80% of patients are not recognized, evaluated or treated in a timely fashion.”
Electrologists note that women with an excess of androgen grow hair in a much different manner from most other women they see. Their facial and body hair growth could rival that of a man’s. This masculine hair growth pattern on both the face and body is very worrisome to these clients and much of their energy is spent trying to look as though the hair growth doesn’t exist.
Since professional electrologists are trained to recognize the signs of androgen excess, when a client comes in to address the cosmetic symptoms, they are likely to be referred to their primary care physician or an endocrinologist for evaluation. While electrology treatments go forward, the cause of the unwanted hair growth can be mitigated through appropriate medical treatment. The impact of having been directed to medical care can greatly benefit many other areas of their lives.