Hirsutism simply means excessive hair growth in females where hair is normally absent or minimal. While it’s certainly troubling and can cause self-consciousness and emotional distress, hirsutism can also indicate a more serious condition, like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
Excessive hair growth is a common symptom of PCOS. This is due to the relatively high levels of testosterone found in women suffering from PCOS. It is normal for all women to have some amount of testosterone, but those with PCOS have excessive levels, causing unwanted hair growth. Some of the most common areas affected are the chin, cheeks, neck, and chest. Masculine hair on the arms and legs is also possible.
In addition to hirsutism, symptoms of PCOS can vary widely from woman to woman and may include: irregular or completely absent periods, ovarian cysts, male-pattern hair loss, obesity, acne, skin tags, dark skin patches, high cholesterol levels, exhaustion or lack of mental alertness, decreased sex drive, excess male hormones, and infertility. If you feel you may be suffering from PCOS try this self-test available at Insulitelabs.com.
Too much hair in the wrong places can be embarrassing and emotionally painful. While treatments like waxing, bleaching, tweezing, laser hair removal and electrolysis provide relief from symptoms, they do not treat the underlying cause of PCOS—a hormonal imbalance brought on by insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is a hormonal imbalance linked to the way the body processes insulin, ultimately affecting blood sugar levels and the way the body processes food and stores fat. Women who are insulin resistant typically carry excess weight in the abdominal area, causing an “apple” shape, rather than a “pear” shape, where excess weight is carried in the hips and buttocks. While many women who suffer from insulin resistance and PCOS are overweight, this is not always the case. Women of a normal weight may also be affected.
Typically, harsh pharmaceuticals, like Metformin (also known as glucophage), are prescribed by doctors to treat PCOS and insulin resistance. While these drugs can be effective, they also carry the risk of side effects such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Metformin may also increase the risk of heart attack.
If your unwanted hair growth is caused by PCOS, correcting insulin resistance is likely to alleviate your symptoms because you are addressing the underlying cause. Many women successfully reverse their insulin resistance and PCOS symptoms naturally with proper nutrition, exercise, nutraceuticals, and support.