Excessive Hair Growth in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Excessive growth of thick, dark and strong hairs on upper lip, chin, sideburn areas, neck, around the nipple region, between the breasts, abdomen, back, shoulders, inner and outer thighs and arms is a common symptom in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. An increase in production and efficacy of male hormones (testosterone, etc.) and a decrease in production of a substance called sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG)which neutralizes the male hormones by binding them in circulation causes light and thin hairs turn into dark and thick hairs.

This picture demonstrates  excessive hair growth on the neck area in a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome.

 

Insulin is a hormone produced in pancreas. Pancreas produces much more insulin than normal in women with insulin resistance. Hyperinsulinemia (increased insulin levels) causes excessive hair growth in women with polycystic ovary syndrome by two ways, including increased production of male hormones (testosterone, etc.) in ovaries and decreased production of binding substance (SHBG) in liver.

This picture demonstrates excessive hair growth on chin in a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome.

 

Body fat (adipose tissue) percentage is negatively correlated with sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) levels. For this reason, overweight and obese women have low levels of SHBG. Low SHBG levels cause excessive hair growth in overweight or obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome because there is an increase in amount and efficacy of male hormones (testosterone, etc.) in these women. But, low levels ofSHBG do not cause excessive hair growth in overweight and obese women who do not have polycystic ovary syndrome because the levels and efficacy of male hormones (testosterone, etc.) are normal in these women.

This picture demonstrates excessive hair growth on the lower abdomen in a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome.

 

 Thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism (decreased thyroid hormone levels) causes reduced energy use (low body temperature, etc.). Reduced energy use leads to fat storage in the body. Increased body fat (adipose tissue) percentage decreases production of binding substance (SHBG) of male hormones. For this reason, increased body fat storage causes excessive hair growth by increasing the efficacy of male hormones in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Hypothyroidism can lead to excessive hair growth even in normal weight women with polycystic ovary syndrome if she has an increased body fat.

This picture demonstrates excessive hair growth on the forearm in a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome.

 

This picture demonstrates excessive hair growth on the sideburn area and neck in a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome.

 

Treatment; The primary principle of the treatment of excessive hair growth is to decrease the production and efficacy of male hormones (testosterone, etc.) and to increase the production of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) which neutralizes the male hormones. The treatment of insulin resistance by decreasing hyperinsulinemia is one of the treatment options which causes decreased production of male hormones (testosterone, etc.) in ovaries and increased production of binding substance (SHBG) in liver. Male hormones (testosterone, etc.) cause hair growth by binding receptors located on hair follicles in the skin. For this reason, medications that block the binding of male hormones to these receptors is another alternative for the treatment of excessive hair growth. An enzyme called 5-alpha reductase located on hair follicles in the skin converts male hormones (testosterone, etc.) to active forms (dihydrotestosterone, etc.) after male hormones bound to their receptors. Active forms (dihydrotestosterone, etc.) are much stronger forms of male hormones which cause hair growth. For this reason, medications that block the conversion of male hormones to active forms is another alternative for the treatment of excessive hair growth.  The treatment option for a person changes to the origin, distribution and severity of hair growth. Subgroups of polycystic ovary syndrome (A, B, C), obesity and insulin and sugar metabolism are also important factors determining the treatment options.

Check Also

Thyroid Gland Dysfunction and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Thyroid gland function should be investigated to diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome. Particularly, it is important …