Treating PCOS Hair Growth

Excessive hair growth (the medical term for which is "hirsutism") is a very unpleasant and embarrassing PCOS symptom. Not all PCOS sufferers are unlucky enough to have this PCOS-related problem, but those who do may find that it really saps away sense their self-esteem and confidence.

The Cause

PCOS sufferers have elevated levels of male hormones (called androgens) - testosterone is a well-known example. In addition to the troublesome effects this has on a woman's reproductive system, it can also cause her body to develop masculine characteristics, such as hair on the face, arms, neck, chest, stomach, back and toes.

Like other PCOS symptoms, if you're going to get this truly unpleasant one, it will probably appear in your teens or early 20s. So if you're a PCOS patient who has already passed that age barrier without developing these symptoms, then you're probably not going to.

Treatment Options

There is more than one effective way of treating PCOS-related hair growth.

Non-Medical Treatment

If you are affected, you may want to consider non-medical options first. Non-medical treatment of male-pattern hair growth generally requires an extremely disciplined hair removal routine.

Shaving - shaving is a good option for legs and arms (easily accessible parts of the body). The hair root tends to remain visible just above the skin, however, which makes this method less suitable for the face. Shaving can also cause unsightly skin irritation, and needs to be repeated almost every day. There is also the risk of ingrown hairs, which can become infected.

Waxing - waxing has a longer lasting effect than shaving but really should be carried out by a professional beautician in order to avoid hairs becoming ingrown. It is painful, but many women think it's worth the discomfort because the hair doesn't grow back for several weeks.

Depilatory creams - these creams are effective on soft hair in easily accessible parts of the body. They may cause irritation, and hair generally grows back more quickly than after waxing.

Electrolysis and laser treatment - these treatments permanently destroy hair follicles, meaning that wherever they are used, hair will never grow back. Unfortunately, they're very expensive.

Medical Treatment

There are several drugs on the market used to treat PCOS-related hair growth.

Birth control pills - contraceptive pills reduce the levels of male hormones in the body and consequently reduce body hair growth.

Spironolactone - this medication inhibits the effect that male hormones have on the skin and therefore prevents male-pattern hair growth in women. The drug can cause birth defects - therefore it's not in any way appropriate for women who are trying to get pregnant. You must be really careful in using contraception while taking this drug.

Eflorinithine - also called "Vaniqa" cream, when applied to the face, slows down but does not totally prevent hair growth. It acts by blocking an enzyme in the hair follicles and, when used in combination with a hair removal product, usually produces good results within four to eight weeks.

What To Choose

If you're not sure which treatment to try, don't suffer alone without talking to your doctor, especially if home hair removal treatments are not working for you. This symptom can be managed, allowing you, hopefully, to feel good about the way you look.

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