Unwanted Back Hair
Why do women grow excessive or unwanted hair?
Women develop excessive body or facial hair due to higher-than-normal levels of androgens, including testosterone. All females produce androgens, but the levels typically remain low. Certain medical conditions can cause a woman to produce too many androgens. This can cause male-pattern hair growth and other male characteristics, such as a deep voice.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one common cause of hirsutism. It accounts for three out of every four hirsutism cases, according to American Family Physician. Benign cysts that form on the ovaries can affect hormone production, leading to irregular menstrual cycles and decreased fertility. The Office of Women’s Health states that women with PCOS often have moderate-to-severe acne and tend to be overweight. Additional symptoms can include:
- mood changes
- pelvic pain
- sleep problems
Adrenal gland disorders
Other forms of hormonal imbalance that cause excessive hair growth include these adrenal gland disorders:
The adrenal glands, located just above your kidneys, are responsible for hormone production. People with congenital adrenal hyperplasia are born without an enzyme that’s necessary for hormone production. Those with Cushing’s disease have higher-than-normal levels of cortisol. Cortisol is sometimes called the “stress hormone.” All of these conditions can affect the way your body produces androgens.
Symptoms of adrenal gland disorders include:
- high blood pressure
- bone and muscle weakness
- excess weight in the upper body
- high or low blood sugar levels
Excessive body or facial hair growth can also result from taking any of the following medications:
- anabolic steroids, which are synthetic variations of testosterone
In some cases, women may experience idiopathic hirsutism, which means that there’s no detectable cause for why the hirsutism developed. It’s usually chronic and may be harder to treat.
Your doctor will take a detailed medical history when diagnosing hirsutism. Discuss your medication use with your doctor to help them determine the cause of your condition. Your doctor will likely order blood tests to measure your hormone levels. In some cases, your doctor may also order blood work to make sure you don’t have diabetes.
Ultrasounds or MRI scans of your ovaries and adrenal glands may be necessary to check for the presence of tumors or cysts.