Women with excessive body hair don’t just have a cosmetic problem—they may have a health problem. A Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists report says that from 5 percent to 15 percent of women have abnormal hair growth on their face and other body parts, and that for many of them, it’s a symptom of a hormonal disorder. In 70 percent to 80 percent of those cases, the report says, the excess hair is due to a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS. Left untreated, PCOS causes hormone imbalances and can lead to infertility and eventually to bigger health problems, such as diabetes. Other causes of excess body hair include thyroid disorders and tumors. “Often women have spent many years trying to cope with their hirsutism before they seek professional help,” Dr. Rebecca Swingler tells BBCnews.com. “If they notice a change in the pattern of hair growth or they notice having to wax more often, then they should seek help.” Often, she says, women with hirsutism can be easily treated with hormone therapy, such as taking birth control pills. “It’s always worth getting it investigated,” she says.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- China's leader is telling the People's Liberation Army to prepare for war
- How I lost all my money
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- The best books we read in 2014
- How to save money: 12 great personal finance tips
- The religious right isn't retreating — it's reforming
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How to wrap a present with mathematical precision (and waste less paper)
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
Subscribe to the Week