Glossing through magazines or being on Instagram pages ever so often may keep us well entertained and excited.

We see so many people looking ‘picture perfect’ and you may wonder, how in this world people get to look like models. 

As women, we need to note that in reality, ‘nobody is perfect’. We see beautiful pictures that have been ‘touched up’, (thanks to modern software, make-up artistes, skilled photographers and graphic artistes, etc). Everyone can look their very best these days!

In society, it is not common to see women with beards, hairy chests and legs. But the truth is that this is a very common situation with women, from the odd strands to a full bushy beard!

The question is, why do some women have beards?

Science says that women develop excessive body or facial hair due to higher-than-normal levels of androgens, including testosterone.

All females produce androgens, but the levels typically remain low.

Certain medical conditions can cause a woman to produce too many androgens!

Hirsutism: is a condition where excessive or unwanted hair grows on a woman’s body or face, especially in areas typically seen in men, such as the face and lower abdomen. 

All women have facial and body hair, but it is usually very fine and light in colour. 

Excessive hair growth caused by hirsutism is normally differentiated by texture, as it is coarse and dark and can grows on other areas of the body like the arms, back or the chest, apart from the face. 

The growth pattern of hirsutism in women is associated with (virilisation - the development of male physical characteristics). Women with this condition have characteristics that are commonly associated with male hormones.

According to the Indian Journal of Dermatology, hirsutism affects 5-10% of women and tends to run in families and is more common in women of Mediterranean, South Asian and Middle Eastern heritage.

Hypertrichosis:  refers to excess hair in areas that aren’t dependent on androgens (male hormones). This condition can increase hair anywhere on the body. 

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): is a common cause of hirsutism (3 out of 4 cases). Benign cysts (a membranous sac or cavity of abnormal character, containing fluid) that form in the ovaries can affect hormone production, leading to irregular menstrual cycles and decreased fertility. 

Women with PCOS often have moderate-to-severe acne and tend to be overweight. Other symptoms include *fatigue, *mood changes, *infertility, *pelvic pain, *headaches, *sleep problems.

Adrenal Gland Disorders: like *adrenal cancer, *adrenal tumours *congenital adrenal hyperplasia and *Cushing’s disease can cause excessive hair growth.

Adrenal glands are located just above your kidneys and are responsible for hormone production. 

Those with Cushing’s disease have higher than normal levels of cortisol (the ‘stress hormone’).

Symptoms of adrenal gland disorder include: * high blood pressure, *bone and muscle weakness, *excess weight in the upper body, *headaches, * high or low blood sugar levels.

Medications: Some medications designed to stimulate hair growth can result in excessive body or facial hair growth. So get a prescription from your doctor if you want to stimulate hair growth with medicines.

Idiopathic hirsutism: means that there are NO detectible causes for the hirsutism experienced. This is usually chronic and may be harder to treat.

Do not panicnow we all know different causes of excessive hair growth (even beards) in women and it is not dangerous! 

The great news is that with information, we can empower women to be more confident about the odd hair or two, or seek medical help, if the excessive hair growth makes a person very self-conscious!