Natural Ways to Get Rid of Hirsutism Permanently
Normally on this blog we talk about ways you can grow your hair. But sometimes your problem is the exact opposite. Maybe you’re growing hair you don’t want, in places you’d really rather you didn’t.
If you’re a female experiencing male pattern hair growth, you’re experiencing a condition known as “hirsutism.” And let me tell you … it can be a righteous pain.
If you have hirsutism, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one in the world with it. But it’s actually a pretty common thing. But as women with hirsutism typically go to lengths to conceal it, it’s easy to miss—except of course on yourself, where you feel like every unwanted dark hair stands out.
In this article, I’m going to share some methods with you for getting rid of hirsutism naturally. But first, let’s talk a little bit more about this condition: what it is and what causes it.
Do You Have Hirsutism?
Hirsutism causes hair to grow where you would usually expect to see it on men, not women.
So for example:
- Upper lip
The hair in question is stiff and dark. As such, it is very noticeable.
You may have unwanted hair in more than one of these areas, or you could have it in just one spot.
Note that ethnicity plays a role in diagnosis. What would be considered an unusual amount of hair growth in one ethnicity might be considered quite standard in another.
I have mild hirsutism, and probably have my whole life. I didn’t really think about it when I was a kid. I had sideburns, a unibrow, and some extra hair above my lip. I also had a line of dark hair that started in the middle of my chest and ran down to my groin.
In my 30s, all of that excess hair is actually gone. But I still have hirsutism. Now it shows up primarily on my chin. The hair grows in really fast too. It has to be plucked out once every week or two or it is really obvious.
Hirsutism is usually self-diagnosable. I knew I had it long before a doctor ever told me I did.
I do want to mention before continuing that hirsutism is not something you should be ashamed of. Growing up, my mother was quite a nag about mine. She thought I looked bad. I felt I looked fine. Quite honestly, everybody else thought I did too.
That being said, I don’t like my chin hairs for my own aesthetic reasons, which is why I continue plucking them.
My point here is basically that if you want to treat your hirsutism, you should. But if you are okay with how you look, don’t worry about it. And know that no matter what, you are great just the way you are.
Note however that in some cases, there may be an underlying hormonal disorder that you should treat. Let’s get into that now.
What Causes Hirsutism?
There are quite a few reasons why you might have hirsutism.
Hair growth in “unwanted” places is more common among certain ethnic groups than others. If you are from South Asia, the Middle East, or a Mediterranean background, there is a higher chance that you will have thick, dark hair where you may not want it.
Cultural perceptions also may be different in these societies, so what is considered “excessive” in one location might be seen as totally irrelevant in another. Indeed, in Greece no one might comment on your facial hair, but in the United States, they might.
There are appear to be genes which influence hirsutism as well. It often shows up in families.
3. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
This is a condition where your body produces excessive androgens (male hormones). It is characterized most commonly by irregular menstrual cycles and/or ovarian cysts. Patients with PCOS often experience hirsutism. Indeed, this is the most common cause of hirsutism.
4. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
This condition is passed down through heredity. If you have it, your adrenal glands produce abnormal amounts of cortisol and androgens.
5. Cushing’s syndrome
Cushing’s syndrome is a complication which may occur when your adrenals are producing too much cortisol (as in congenital adrenal hyperplasia). Some medications may lead to the development of Cushing’s syndrome as well if you take them for too long.
Sometimes tumors secrete androgens. This can lead to hirsutism. Thankfully this is an uncommon cause.
7. Certain medications
There are medications which you might be taking which could lead to hirsutism. For example, danazol, which is taken for endometriosis, has been known to cause excessive hair growth. Corticosteroids and anti-depressants may also sometimes cause hirsutism.
Obesity is not a cause of hirsutism per se, but it is a factor which can play into its development. When you are overweight, your body produces androgens in higher amounts. This combined with other factors could lead to hirsutism.
Pregnancy leads to quite a few hormonal shifts in your body. So sometimes women who are pregnant develop hirsutism.
10. Other hormonal imbalances
Sometimes other conditions which are tied to hormones can cause hirsutism, even if they are not adrenal or PCOS-related. There are a few other less common causes of hirsutism as well. You can read about them here.
Sometimes no underlying condition is ever identified during a diagnosis of hirsutism.
If you are curious, I do not have PCOS, nor do I have any of the other conditions listed here except “other hormonal imbalances.” In my case, I believe it to be estrogen dominance. This imbalance likely has a complex ripple effect on the rest of my hormonal production. While I do not know the details, I do know hirsutism is one of the effects.
How Can You Get Rid of Hirsutism Permanently?
Obviously you can shave or pluck hairs in cases of hirsutism. This can help to keep the condition from becoming too visible to others. But it is a real hassle, and often quite literally a pain. It also has to be done on a fairly continuous basis.
There are medications available for hirsutism—quite a few actually. Of course, you may want to avoid these in order to steer clear of side effects. Birth control pills for example may reduce hirsutism, but they may have other detrimental effects, as identified through the Women’s Health Initiative.
So is there anything you can do to permanently and naturally defeat excess hair growth? In some cases, maybe. Here are a few ideas for natural and effective treatment.
1. Identify and treat your underlying condition.
The first thing you should do is try and figure out why you have hirsutism. Begin by asking yourself whether you have any other symptoms. If for example you have other signs of hormonal imbalance (irregular periods, unusual weight gain, headaches, fatigue, acne and other skin issues, and so on), you could have an underlying condition you need to treat, like PCOS.
If you have hirsutism and no other symptoms, take a look at other members of your family. Does your mother have hirsutism? What about your siblings? What about your aunts? If hirsutism is common in your family or ethnicity, it could just be genetic.
If you do think you have an underlying condition to treat, it is time to talk to your healthcare provider to figure out what steps you may need to take to get your condition under control.
Should you fail to treat your underlying condition, you will have no luck getting your hirsutism to go away. It is not just going to miraculously disappear on its own.
Plus, there could be adverse health consequences if you ignore underlying problems, so treat hirsutism at its source anytime you can identify what that source may be.
2. Try to lose weight and improve your overall diet and health.
As I mentioned before, PCOS is the single most common cause of hirsutism. Around 80% of women who have PCOS are overweight.
And remember, even if you do not have PCOS, being overweight can cause your body to produce more androgens.
That means one of the best natural ways to tackle hirsutism is to try and lose weight. Whether you have PCOS or not, there is a good chance this could lead to a reduction in your excess hair growth.
In this study, researchers found that losing as little as 5% of one’s body weight can normalize menstrual cycles in women who have PCOS.
This should really encourage you, because it means you do not need to go and drop a ton of weight just to start experiencing improvements (assuming that PCOS is your issue).
RELATED: Why Do Women Grow Facial Hair
There are no guarantees that your hirsutism will be one of the first symptoms to respond, but improvements in your cycles should lead to greater balance overall. Eventually, that may very well lead to some of that excess hair clearing up.
If you can then maintain that healthier weight over the long run, that may feasibly keep the hirsutism and other PCOS symptoms from flaring again.
There are quite a few other dietary suggestions for managing PCOS as well:
- Eat foods which have a low glycemic index.
- Make breakfast your largest meal of the day. Keep your dinner down to a minimal portion.
- Eat plenty of omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy fats.
- Eat a diet which is low in carbohydrates.
- Get extra lean protein.
- Supplement with vitamin D or chromium.
Read more about these suggestions here.
Keep in mind that your hirsutism may very well come back if you do not stick with your new diet. So make a commitment once you find something that works to make it into a permanent lifestyle change.
3. Exercise, reduce stress, and get more rest.
Along with dietary changes, there are a few other things you can do to get your hormones balanced and fight the symptoms of PCOS, including hirsutism.
One of those is to work out. This will help you with weight loss, and it may also improve insulin resistance (which is essential if you want to treat PCOS).
Another key is to get enough sleep. If you do not get more than 6 hours of sleep every night, you are more likely to have irregular menstrual cycles and develop insulin resistance. This can play into PCOS and hirsutism.
Finally, stress can wreak havoc on your hormones. So do your best not to let it. That may mean that you need to cut back on your responsibilities and make more time to relax, meditate, work on hobbies, and generally enjoy yourself.
Take a gestalt attitude when it comes to treating hirsutism. As they say, “the whole is more than the sum of its parts.” Combined, diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes will accomplish more than any one of these measures on its own.
4. Get the hair removed through electrolysis or laser hair removal.
If all else fails, you do always have the option of getting the hair removed. I am not sure I would call this a “natural” solution, but it is not really “unnatural” either. It is just a procedure.
There are two options available to you. One is electrolysis. This is a process where electrical current is used to stop hair from growing in a certain spot.
The other option is laser hair removal. This is similar, but instead of using electrical current, a laser is sent to target the roots of the unwanted hairs.
Often, you will need several treatments to get the hair to stop returning (the cost of these treatments can add up), but once you succeed, the results are permanent. Just remember that if there is an underlying cause of your hirsutism, this is not going to treat that. It will only remove the symptom.
Conclusion: Hirsutism Can Be Annoying, But There Are Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your Unwanted Excess Hair
It is a real pain standing in front of the mirror every few days plucking hairs out of your chin, or shaving hair off your back or chest. But in many cases, taking simple steps like dieting and improving your overall lifestyle can make a major difference. Just make sure that you treat any underlying causes you are able to identify. Doing so will not only reduce excessive hair growth, but also protect your health.