Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School


When to Call A Doctor

If you have excessive, male-pattern hair growth or unusually rapid growth of male-pattern hair in a short period of time, you should see a medical professional. Also discuss hirsutism with a doctor if you have any symptoms of overproduction of androgens:

  • Menstrual periods that are infrequent, irregular or absent

  • Acne that is difficult to manage

  • Deepening of the voice

  • A receding scalp line or thinning hair in your head's crown area

  • Decreased breast size or enlargement the clitoris

Discuss hirsutism with your doctor if you have other symptoms that may suggest an underlying problem in the ovaries, adrenal glands or pituitary gland, including:

  • Obesity (commonly seen in the most common cause of androgen excess, polycystic ovarian syndrome)

  • Darkened, thickened skin ("velvetlike") in your armpits, groin or neck area

  • Easy bruising, weight gain in your midsection or muscle weakness

  • Leakage of milk or other fluid from your nipples when you are not breast-feeding

  • High blood pressure, high blood sugar or a cholesterol problem

  • Hirsutism prior to puberty or hirsutism that occurs suddenly

Because some medical problems resulting in hirsutism run in families, talk to your doctor if you have these symptoms, even if your hirsutism is typical for your female relatives.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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