Girl: Help, I’m growing moustache!

Face of an African Woman

As an African female, it is quite understandable to raise alarm over growing facial hairs because the less feminine look would probably not go unnoticed unlike if you were native Indian women or from the Mediterranean regions where they naturally have more body hairs. Expectedly, extra servings of hair follicles around un-feminine areas like the moustache or in unusual abundance on the breast or all over the body can be cosmetically distressing.

A simple visit to the hospital may end up with a doctor’s diagnosis called HIRSUITISM. This simply describes where a female grows male hair patterns like the moustache, beard, and thick hairs on the legs. Unfortunately, the doctor will most likely ‘tag’ a second diagnosis called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) at least until proven otherwise; especially if there are obvious accompanying de-feminizing symptoms like deepened voices, receding hair lines/baldness, menstrual irregularities, enlarged clitoris, … oops, sorry for all the barrage of questions, it does start feeling like Privacy Invasion right?

The reason is because there are two hair types: Vellus and Terminal. Vellus is the thin, short, soft, fine and if you like, sexy hair that women grow on the face, chest, back that gives the illusion of a hairless skin. Terminal hairs are the thicker, long, coarse and curly masculine-like hairs found in adult armpit, pubic area, and scalp. Hirsuitism occurs when there is an abnormally high level of Androgens (the male sex hormone) or the lady’s hair follicles are rather sensitive where normal levels exist. Either way, such an affinity is bad news because testosterone stimulates Terminal hair growth (if only this new found love can be strictly exercised within the confines of the scalp!). Estrogens (the female sex hormones) on the contrary slow hair growth and produce much lighter fine hairs.

After due examinations and necessary discussions, the next step would entail laboratory investigations like blood tests to assay hormonal levels and blood sugar, then ultrasound to view the ovaries. As the name implies, the presence of multiple cysts in the ovaries would be diagnostic of PCOS. PCOS also tags along with Diabetes and Obesity. Other more sinister (and much less common) causes of raised testosterone are cancers of the ovaries or of the adrenal glands, Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH); or the investigations would declare this girl free of all these stuff!

How to get rid of the unwanted hairs? Many women get by with reassurance and cosmetic aid with physical methods of hair removal like Shaving, Waxing, Electric hair removal or Laser where affordable. I have heard of Bleaching to make the hairs less visible but I dare hope no regular dark skinned Naija girl should give it a shot. Obviously, if it is caused by PCOS, the more logical option is to treat the underlying cause and this would be done with medications strictly as prescribed by your personal doctor. (Hint: besides the anti-diabetic drugs, the other class of drugs used are hormonal Contraceptives while most of the others are chiefly androgenic, so NO self medication) and sorry, we are not a web pharmacy store either *wink*

And I assure you that you would be reassured on seeing these really hairy Indian sisters

  • Elizabeth Wake
    March 14, 2013 at 5:28 am #


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