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Excessive Body and Facial Hair in Women

The body and facial hair seen on adult women usually begins during puberty and increases into the early twenties. The amount depends on one's genes and the presence of male hormones (androgens) produced in the ovaries and in the adrenal glands. Androgens tend to produce hair growth in certain sites -- the mustache or chin area, around the nipples, in the midline of the lower abdomen, and on the arms and legs. They may also produce thinning of scalp hair and, when pronounced, a scooping out or recession of hair in the temporal area. A doctor will look at those particular sites to assess whether the patient has an increase in androgens.

A condition called polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common reason for a woman to have excessive body hair and irregular periods dating back to puberty. Additional features of PCOS include elevated androgen levels and often enlarged ovaries with multiple cysts (fluid-filled sacs).

Learn more about PCOS.

Learn about hair removal treatments.

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