Watch Those Whiskers
What body hair may say about your fertility
Could your chin whiskers be a sign of a hormonal imbalance? Maybe, according to a new testing procedure developed by Georgia Health Sciences University that found excessive body hair growth in women—a condition known as “hirsutism”—is a key symptom of a range of hormonal conditions, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), that can reduce a woman’s fertility when left untreated.
But aren’t some mamas just naturally more hairy—and have no troubles at all conceiving? Absolutely, say experts. It’s the kind of hair growth that matters. Some women are genetically predetermined to have fuller, darker hair covering their bodies (called vellus hair). The hair to watch out for is called “terminal hair,” which is darker and coarser than vellus hair, especially when terminal hair grows in places more commonly seen in men in women, such as the beard, chest, and belly. Excessive terminal hair growth may still be hereditary, but for many women, it also indicates some kind of hormonal imbalance.
To check for hirsutism and terminal hairs, just take a look in the mirror. Doctors found that women with chin hair growth and excessive hair on their tummies are most likely to have PCOS or another hormone-related condition. Doctors are even able to pinpoint the exact hormone—too much hair in these two places often equals higher than normal levels of male androgens.
The good news? A quick check of your face and tummy may reveal what it takes some women months and years (and money) to find out. Plus, if further testing does show that excessive hair indeed is indeed linked to PCOS, there are treatments and diet changes that can help to bring symptoms under control—and bring you one step closer to baby.
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