Excessive facial hair or coarse hair on unwanted places in the body is a sign of Hirsutism. It usually shows up as abnormal hair growth in some parts of the body such as face, chest, and back. If you have tried and got tired of the measures to get rid of the stubborn strands of facial hair, then you are not alone!
In this post we will shed light on the primary cause of facial hair and Hirsutism. We will also learn about dietary measures and natural remedies that can be effective to put a full stop to facial hair growth forever. Let’s dive in!
PCOS – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. One common symptom of PCOS is Hirsutism or male pattern hair growth.
Because hirsutism is a symptom observed in this PCOS, then it is just as well that we get a little understanding of what this syndrome is.
10% of all women are affected by PCOS. This figure is conservative, and some reports put the figure as high as 26%. It is due to the excess production of male hormones (Androgens). This goes on to confirm that women with high androgen levels are more at risk of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This in turn causes an interference with regular ovulation.
Note that it is a syndrome, not a disease. It is a set of possible conditions. This makes it difficult to diagnose, since no two cases are exactly the same.
A little bit on Androgens
Male hormones are usually referred to as Androgens. However, they are also produced in females, though in much smaller quantities than in males. When androgens are produced in excessive amount in females, then they can lead to a number of health issues. And Hirsutism or excessive facial hair is just one of such symptoms.
Some of the known Androgens include:
- Testosterone, the typical male steroid hormone, which is also responsible for male body type.
- Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
- Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)
- Dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate (DHEA-S).
A female with excess androgen usually tends to develop some of the symptoms such as:
- The voice thickens
- There is male pattern hair growth (hirsutism)
- Breast size shrinks
- Body fat distribution changes, tending towards belly fat.
Usually, about 80% of women, who have high androgen levels have PCOS.
How does this PCOS come about?
The cause of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is not known exactly. It has however been attributed to several factors including genetics. A woman is more likely to develop the syndrome if her mother or a close family member has had it before.
You can learn more on Ovarian Cysts- Causes, Symptoms, Managing it.
Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Unlike disease, which has specific pattern of symptoms; PCOS is a collection of varying symptoms. Hence, it is usually termed as a syndrome. Different women present with different symptoms. However, there is a common denominator, which is hormone imbalance.
It triggers several changes in multiple body tissues resulting in:
- Cystic ovaries with abundant immature follicles: Poly-cystic Ovaries happen when there is an abundance of immature follicles in the ovaries. They rarely mature enough to produce an egg. These follicles merely look like a string of beads.
- Lack of ovulation or absence of ovulation: The ovarian follicles are not stimulated enough due to hormone imbalance. Hence, it results in absence of ovulation or irregular ovulation. This in turn affects the periods and menstrual cycle as well.
Other symptoms that may present with this condition are as follows:
- Hirsutism (which we’ll talk about soon);
- Acne and other skin conditions;
- Elevated androgen levels;
- Ratio of luteinizing hormone (LH) to follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is reversed. That is to say, there is a higher level of LH relative to FSH, which is not normal;
- Abnormal ovulation;
- Male pattern hair loss;
- Obesity occurs in about 50% of cases.
PCOS can also lead to serious health complications
Among others, the complications that might arise include:
- Insulin resistance;
- High blood pressure;
- Type-2 diabetes;
- Heart diseases and increased risk of heart attack;
- Higher risk of cancers of the breast, ovary, and endometrial layer of the uterus.;
- Anovulatory infertility, meaning infertility that results from absence of ovulation or that egg is not released in a menstrual cycle.
Having seen these, you can understand that PCOS is a pretty serious condition and should not be toyed with.
Now to Hirsutism – Excessive growth of facial hair in women
Hirsutism is the excess growth of facial or body hair in women. The hair doesn’t only appear on the face, but can also show up on the chest, abdomen, back, upper arm and legs, and inner thighs. Additionally, instead of the fine kind of hair that can normally be found on the skin and help with heat regulation, this kind of hirsute hair is dark, coarse, and long. The incidence of hirsutism is about one in every ten women.
When you notice hirsutism, delay could be dangerous. It could be that what you really have is PCOS. In that case, then the hirsutism is really just one of several other symptoms that could have long-term effects. Bad ones.
Why can I become hirsute?
Of course, the number one cause, you can guess, is PCOS. However, hirsutism may also occur due to the following:
- Your hair follicles are highly sensitive to androgens;
- There is adrenal hyperplasia;
- Insulin resistance is present;
- Adrenal hyperplasia, which might result in excess production of cortisol(stress hormone).
- Cushing syndrome, resulting from high levels of cortisol(stress hormone) present in the blood for a long time.
- Medications containing hormones, steroids, or drugs that induce hair growth like Rogaine.
- Acanthrosis nigricans(AN).
These can all result in hirsutism.
Treatments for Hirsutism and excessive facial hair growth
In modern times, treatment options available for hirsutism include:
- The use of birth control pills: They work by suppressing hormones. They suppress production of androgens by ovaries and slow excessive hair growth. This use of BPCs has some undesirable side effects though. Birth control pills are contraceptives, they prevent ovulation, and that means no conception.
- Anti-androgen medications: These come with the birth control pill prescription. They prevent the androgens from acting on hair follicles. Side effects are too be expected with these medications also. They include dry skin, headaches, irregular vaginal bleeding, heartburn, among others.
- Cosmetic therapy: These are intended to remove the hair, for cosmetic purposes mostly. It includes methods like shaving, waxing, bleaching, electrolysis, laser, etc.
These first two treatment options above require consistent use for six months before appreciable results can be seen.
Natural Remedies to remove facial hair permanently at home
If you’re tired of the excess hairs and you want to get rid of them without side effects, then these options are for you.
- For this, you’ll need papaya and turmeric powder. Peel and grind the papaya, mix the turmeric power with it. Massage your face with the resulting formulation for 15mins. Wash of with cool water. You can repeat this once or twice weekly.
- You’ll also need turmeric for this one, with milk. Make these into a paste and apply to your face, then leave to dry. Gently scrub it off afterwards.
- Get some sugar, lemon juice and water. Mix them and apply where the hair growth is at. Leave it there for some 20mins and wash off afterwards. This can be done three times in a week.
- Do you have some honey, lemon juice and egg? A few drops of honey, lemon juice and egg white, mixed together, is something you can do then. Apply on affected area and leave to dry. Afterwards, remove with cotton dipped in warm water.
- Virechana therapy: It is an Ayurvedic detoxification procedure to get rid of the toxins and excess hormones from the body.
Diet regimen and lifestyle that best fits Hirsutism
This list combines for PCOS and hirsutism. After all, a major cause of hirsutism is PCOS,
- Embrace foods with low glycemic index to balance your blood sugar levels. When you regulate blood sugar, then you also prevent insulin spikes and insulin resistance.
- Time and regulate your intake of complex carbs so that you don’t have blood sugar spikes and lows.
- Hydration with herbal teas plain water, fruits, and vegetables is a great way to incorporate right micro nutrients that your body really needs.
- Follow an Ayurvedic Diet to balance your body and Dosha.
- Food rich in phytoestrogens are your good friends. Flax seeds, fennel, licorice, alfalfa, aloe vera, etc, are good sources of phytoestrogens.
- Shed some weight in case of obesity.