Hirsutism (from Latin hirsutus = shaggy, hairy) is defined as excessive and increased hair growth in women in locations where the occurrence of terminal hair normally is minimal or absent. It refers to a male pattern of body hair (androgenic hair) and it is therefore primarily of cosmetic and psychological concern. Hirsutism is a symptom rather than a disease and may be a sign of a more serious medical indication, especially if it develops well after puberty.
Growing evidence implicates high circulating levels of insulin in women to the development of hirsutism. This theory is consistent with the observation that obese (and thus presumably insulin resistant hyperinsulinemic) women are at high risk of becoming hirsute. Further, treatments that lower insulin levels will lead to a reduction in hirsutism.
It is speculated that insulin, at high enough concentration, stimulates the ovarian theca cells to produce androgens. There may also be an effect of high levels of insulin to activate the insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-1) receptor in those same cells. Again, the result is increased androgen production.
The following may be some of the conditions that may increase a woman's normally low level of male hormones:
One method of evaluating hirsutism is the Ferriman-Gallwey score which gives a score based on the amount and location of hair growth on a woman.
Hirsutism often not skin deep; look for disorders: women can pluck hairs on the chin and the belly, so be sure to do an undressed, full-body exam.(Metabolic Disorders)
May 15, 2007; LOS ANGELES -- hirsutism may be the most reliable way to recognize polycystic ovary syndrome because excess hair is so...
Comparison of two oral contraceptives containing either drospirenone or cyproterone acetate in the treatment of hirsutism
Jan 01, 2007; Abstract Combined oral contraceptives (COCs) are considered the first-line treatment for women with hirsutism. They...