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Hirsutism

Hirsutism is excess male-pattern hair on a woman, caused by so-called "male" hormones. Acne also follows this pattern, as it is linked to the same stimulation of the hair follicle. Often it's not so much that you have too many free testosterones in your system as that your follicles are exceptionally sensitive to your normal level of the hormone.

If you are a woman and have heavy hair growth in male-pattern areas such as upper lip, beard, sideburns, chest (not breast - that's pretty normal) and especially if your periods aren't regular, the best thing is to consult an endocrinologist. The answer may (or may not) be giving estrogen or using an androgen blocker such as spironolactone. Both have side effects. At the same time, it would be good to have electrolysis done, as it took a long time to stimulate those follicles to grow the hair; it will take just as long to overcome that stimulation.

For more information, see hair removal, and perhaps read Dr. Geoffrey Redmond's book (for understanding the hormones, not for options in hair removal) The Good News About Women's Hormones.

Another, perhaps more accessible, opinion on hormones is available from John R. Lee, MD in his book on the properties of natural progesterone.

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