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PCOS and Hirsutism

Hirsutism affects 5-10 per cent of all women and has a much higher percentage of women with ovarian cysts. Studies have revealed that women of European ancestry have higher rates than women of African descent and that Asian women have the lowest rate.

Because physical appearance has so much to do with how people relate to each other, hirsutism can be quite a painful experience. Women may be chronically stressed by the amount of time and money they spend removing unwanted hair, to say nothing of the frustration of having it continually grow back.

What Causes Hirsutism ?

There are many interacting factors such as hormonal, genetic, and lifestyle that combine to determine how much hair you have, and where it grows.

Hirsutism is thought to be mostly due to excessive levels of androgenic hormones; examples of androgens being testosterone, androstenedione, and DHEA. Testosterone is the main androgen we're concerned about. It's normal for men to have a lot of testosterone and for women to have some. When women have too much testosterone, it results in hirsutism. When men have excessive testosterone, prostate problems can occur.

But even if your androgens are normal, you may develop hirsutism because your body is overly sensitive to hormones. And some women who have normal androgens and don't have PCOS will develop excessive hair. This condition is called "idiopathic" hirsutism, which means the cause is unknown.

Your genes may be a contributing factor to hirsutism. Your inherited genetic predisposition may incline your metabolism towards creating conditions that are favourable to the growth of unwanted hair. However, what you eat, whether you exercise, how well you sleep, how well you manage stress, and the pollutants you are exposed to will directly influence what your genes do. So your hirsutism is partially subject to your control.

Let's look at some specific things you can do about unwanted hair.

There are basically two ways to handle hirsutism. You can physically remove or destroy the unwanted hair, or you can reduce the androgen and related hormone imbalances that are causing the hair to grow.

A healthy diet, supplementation, exercise, stress management, and quality healthcare will have a profoundly beneficial effect for PCOS women with hirustism. A thoughtful self-care program will do much to reduce the manifestations of PCOS, including hirsutism.

This type of program is designed to:

  • Reduce the excess insulin that contributes to increased androgen production and hirsutism.
  • Help restore your normal menstrual cycle and fertility.
  • Help prevent type 2 diabetes and heart disease.