Pronounced: Her-soot-ismEn Español (Spanish Version)
Hirsutism is excess male-pattern hair growth in women. The coarse, dark hair can occur in areas such as the face, chest, and back.
True hirsutism is often due to an increased level of a male sex hormone called androgen. The main circulating androgen is called testosterone. This hormone is normally found in both men and women. There are certain medical conditions or medications that may cause an elevation in the levels of this hormone in women.
The most common cause of hirsutism is polycystic ovary syndrome. Other less common include:
- Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
- Some forms of Cushing syndrome
- Adrenal tumors
- Ovarian tumors
- Pituitary tumors
Certain drugs, including:
- Anabolic steroids
- Progestin-containing medications (such as oral contraceptives)
Sometimes excess hair growth is due to the person's ethnic background or family tendencies. In some cases, the cause is not known.
Last reviewedSeptember 2012by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.