For the most part, body hair is just a harmless fact of life. You can wax it, shave it, or leave it alone, and that's about it. But in some cases, there are surprising things thick body hair could mean about your health. Sometimes hair can say serious things about your body.
Also known as hirsutism, the growth of excess body hair affects about 5 to 10 percent of women who are old enough to bear children, according to the Cleveland Clinic. In some cases, it simply means the woman produces higher than average levels of androgen hormones, as further noted by the Cleveland Clinic. It's not that unusual, and sometimes hirsutism can run in families, as explained by the British Skin Foundation. Although it isn't the only cause of thick body hair, hirsutism is related to most of the health concerns covered here.
Although the hair itself is pretty harmless, body hair is one of those charged topics, especially when it comes to female grooming. But as people like model and body positive activist Harnaam Kaur prove, people with hirsutism don't have to hide or get rid of the hair. It can just be another part of your life, health, and body.
Pregnancy hair growth isn't limited to the stuff on your scalp. "During pregnancy, the extra hormones can cause hair to grow thicker, faster, and darker," said Dr. Clara Ward in Reader's Digest. "This occurs not just on the scalp, but on the body as well, which is usually covered with fine hairs that now appear more prominent. The belly is a common location, as are the face, breast, and thighs.” It's just one of the many bodily quirks that come along with pregnancy.
In some cases, an increase in body hair might point to serious health conditions. "There are some conditions where the increased hair growth is caused by hormonal imbalances, namely increased production of male hormones. PCOS (Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome) is the most common cause," said Private Skin Laser Clinic expert Elizabeth May in Cosmopolitan. If you have any other symptoms of PCOS, such as infrequent or irregular periods, then consider seeing your physician for a check-up.
Check the medicine cabinet. Medications including danazol, systemic corticosteroids, and fluoxetine (Prozac) may cause excess hair growth in women, as noted by the Mayo Clinic. Talk to your doctor about this side effect if it's causing you concern.
4. Adrenal Gland Disorders
Responsible for releasing various hormones, the adrenal glands are something you basically never think about, unless they start causing problems. For instance, both Cushing's Syndrome and pituitary tumors can result in the growth of excess hair on the face and body, as explained in the National Institute Of Child Health and Human Development. Definitely see your physician if this is a possibility.
5. Thyroid Dysfunction
Metabolic disorders can also cause thick body hair. In fact, thyroid dysfunction can cause hypertrichosis, which is a generalized type of excessive hair growth, as explained by the American Family Physician. Like any other potential medical concern, it's best discussed with your physician.