by Marshaneil Soumi D' Rozario | 03rd Dec, 2018
Many women share a common struggle against unwanted facial hair. It can be absolutely frustrating to live with unwelcomed hair growth without knowing the actual reason for its occurrence. Excess hair, hair loss, and acne are often associated with PCOS.
PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a disorder where there is a hormonal imbalance in young women causing weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles, excessive hair growth, acne, and infertility. Increased facial and body hair (hirsutism) is one of the most common presenting symptoms.
About three-quarters of women who present with acne have PCOS on ultrasound. Alopecia and more specifically crown pattern baldness have been less commonly reported in women with PCOS.
Dr. Shuba Dharmana, Dermatologist, Lejeune Medspa Bangalore, says, “It usually affects women in the reproductive age group. There is an excess of male hormones that cause delayed periods and hair growth. This condition is diagnosed by symptoms, and by a blood test that shows an increase in testosterone levels. An ultrasound of the ovaries will show cysts, confirming the diagnosis.”
Some of the symptoms of PCOS are as follows:
Excessive weight gain
Excessive hair growth – body and face
Heavy menstrual bleeding
Male pattern baldness – hair may start to thin out in the front
Pigmentation in the folds like in armpits, neck, under breasts
The reason behind the growth of facial hair is Serum Testosterone. The male hormone levels in the blood rise in PCOS, causing excessive facial hair growth. Testosterone prevents the ovaries from functioning normally, causing an imbalance in hormones, preventing the egg release and delaying menstrual periods. High androgen activity is the cause of excessive facial hair. This could happen because of genetics, insulin resistance or obesity.
Treatment of PCOS starts with lifestyle changes. Regular exercise of 30 mins a day, three to four times a week, of moderate to high-intensity interval training will help. A diet containing low GI foods or low carbohydrates will help to decrease insulin resistance and inflammation and will help regularize hormones. Weight loss is crucial to help hormones work more effectively. Birth control pills may be prescribed by a Gynecologist to regularize hormones, induce ovulation (egg release) and help to reduce excessive hair growth.
Laser hair removal is a permanent solution to unwanted hair. This process targets hair follicles reducing growth, density, and thickness over a few sessions. In people with PCOS, these treatments really benefit those affected with excessive growth but may need to be maintained with regular sessions.
Metformin is a medicine which is usually given to diabetics, but also helps to combat insulin resistance and may be prescribed in PCOS. For infertility, a Gynecologist may also prescribe other fertility drugs to induce ovulation.
The obesity epidemic may unmask more women with PCOS in the future. Weight reduction in a woman with PCOS will enhance ovulatory cycles and improve hirsutism. Regular exercise can accentuate ovarian function and reverse some of the associated hormonal abnormalities. Following a low carb diet or a diet containing low GI foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains etc., can help in reducing weight. It is advisable to visit a Gynecologist. Do not ignore symptoms of hair fall, acne or excessive hair growth. Consult a Dermatologist for help with your skin issues.
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