The term hirsutism refers to women with increased body hair. This is not an uncommon problem. The usual places where the excess hair growth is manifested is on the face, lip, chin, chest, abdomen, and upper back. Usually the increased hair growth occurs simultaneously in all of these locations. The source of this increased hair growth is an excess of male hormones called "androgens". Every woman produces some male hormone and it only takes a modest increase of such hormone to promote excess hair growth in women. It is necessary for the excess hormone to be present for months to years for the increased hair growth to manifest itself.
There are only two hormone producing glands in a woman's body that are capable of producing excess male hormone. These two glands are the adrenal glands and the ovaries.
As part of your evaluation, your SRM physician may order blood tests that measure the hormone levels from these two glands. The pattern of these hormone levels in your blood helps to determine which hormone producing glands are responsible.
Once the hormone pattern is identified, some form of treatment is usually recommended. There are various medications which can be used.
Most of these medications are designed to suppress the male hormone output from one or the other of the hormone producing glands. It often takes several months for this suppression to fully take effect.
Usually your SRM physician will order further blood tests in the first several months after beginning therapy to document that adequate suppression has taken place.
It is important for you to understand that suppression of the excess male hormone levels by itself does not get rid of the excess hair. This suppressive therapy is first and foremost designed to prevent further increases in the hair growth. Once a hair follicle has been stimulated to grow, simply removing the hormone stimulus will not stop its further growth. In other words, once a hair follicle is "programmed" to grow it will continue to grow.
Therefore, once hormone suppression has been documented you can proceed with a permanent form of hair removal, usually hair electrolysis or laser treatment, and expect to get results. Hair removal techniques that are used prior to beginning suppressive therapy are doomed to failure because as each hair follicle is destroyed another is stimulated to take its place.
Diagnosis and treatment of excess hair growth in women requires patience. While we can make the diagnosis quite accurately, the treatment is often prolonged.
It is best for you to discuss the diagnosis, treatment, and expectations with your SRM physician so that you are fully aware of the overall picture.