Stigma around Hirsutism

Facial Hair Growth in Women

Women have kept a secret from society. It’s so confidential that we often don’t even share it with our peers and loved ones. What’s that secret? Facial and body hair. Yep, that’s right, something as trivial as hair can be a cause of great anxiety, and hence, women tend to keep it a secret and keep clearing their facial hair. 

Facial hair growth reasons

But why do women tend to grow facial hair like men? Well, the answer is simple. Hormones! When androgenic hormones like testosterone increase higher than normal, it results in male-like features including deeper voice and male-patterned hair growth. Hirsutism affects between 5 and 15 percent women of all ethnicities, and precisely 1 in every 14 women experiences it. It can start at an early age and is a process that never stops. Hirsutism usually impacts women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS. Around 72-82% of women who have PCOS have shown signs of excess growth of body or facial hair. And even though this seems like a very natural process, the stigma around facial and body hair is that women spotting them aren’t considered pretty.  Apart from that, when our body develops high levels of cortisol from taking medications for a longer period of time, hirsutism can occur. This is commonly referred to as Cushing Syndrome. Tumors over the adrenal glands, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and higher doses of some medications can cause Hirsutism. Family history of hirsutism or your ethnicity may also be the reason for your hair growth. Usually, this is widely seen in people from genetic sequences based in Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern or South Asian regions. 

But when did we sign up to an ideal of female hairlessness? A face bereft of any unnecessary hair is so sought-after that women undergo extremely painful procedures to achieve that. From waxing, threading, bleaching, and even laser treatments, all this is carried out to generate a standardized, stereotypical image of the ideal woman. Although removal of facial hair is painful, why do women still do it? Facial hair is miniscule but has caused psychological distress and social difficulty in many women. It has also led women to avoid social situations and can also be a cause of anxiety and depression in some. 

Women who have lived through this have been described as “werewolves”, “grizzly bears”, and many other innovative names. It is experiences like these that cause many women to surround themselves with self-doubt and pity, and as a result, they feel as if they absolutely have to undergo such processes. 

Over the years, as women’s dressing style changed and they started wearing different types of dresses that exposed the legs or arms, the pressure to clean these parts became fashionable and even customary. Closer home, Bollywood is the leading manufacturer of creating such a typecast. From showing heroines without any hair on their bodies to dismissing sweat patches, or using photoshop for models appearing on magazine covers and advertisements, they create a false sense of beauty which forces many women to believe that they are not good enough! 

How to reduce facial hair growth in females?

When women are subjugated to such false beliefs, they are judging their value based on their looks, which is both superficial and misleading. Nonetheless, body hair-less or more, makes women uncomfortable. Yet, if you decide to go ahead and get your hirsutism treated, there are options available for the same. 


  1. Birth control pills - These have hormones that regulate your progesterone and estrogen levels, bringing these to an optimum level. 
  2. Anti-androgens - Since hirsutism is caused due to higher levels of testosterone, the male hormone, giving anti-androgens, lowers this hormone. Prescriptions for the same can only be recommended by a doctor.
  3. Topical creams - Doctors are also likely to suggest using a topical cream that helps with the slow growth of hair. 
  4. Laser treatments - Even though it's expensive, it has been proven most effective against hair growth. It uses light treatments to heat and destroy hair follicles. 

So much has been said about compartmentalizing beauty, so whether you decide to opt for these treatments or not, is completely a personal choice. We mean, isn’t that the beauty of beauty, that it comes in all forms, shapes, sizes, and variations? It’s high time we start accepting women for who they are rather than who they’d rather be. 

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