What Does Hirsutism Indicate in a Woman?


Quick Answer

Hirsutism can be indicative of polycystic ovary syndrome, Cushing's syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia or tumors, among other causes, according to Mayo Clinic. It may also be a side effect of some medications.

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Hirsutism is a the condition of unwanted, male-pattern hair growth in women, according to Mayo Clinic. It usually results in hair on body areas where men typically experience hair growth, such as the face, chest and back. Because body hair growth is largely determined by genetic makeup, the condition may be a family trait.

When a female reaches puberty, the ovaries begin to produce a mix of male and female sex hormones, resulting in hair growth in the armpits and pubic area. Hirsutism occurs when the mix being produced becomes unbalanced and favors too high a proportion of male sex hormones, as stated by Mayo Clinic. Among the causes of hirsutism, most are disorders or syndromes that cause an imbalance of sex hormones. Cushing's syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome are both conditions that result in the production of too many male sex hormones, called androgens. Other times, androgen-secreting tumors in the ovaries or adrenal glands can cause the condition. Additionally, drugs such as danazol increase the likelihood of hirsutism in women.

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