Investigations in endocrinology

Investigating and managing hirsutism in a young woman

Emily Hibbert, Sharon Yeoh



Investigations are necessary to determine the cause of hirsutism, particularly if the hirsutism is of sudden onset and progression, moderate or severe, or associated with ovulatory disturbance. Management offers control rather than cure, but can significantly improve cosmesis and reduce patient distress.

Article Extract

Hirsutism, defined as excessive terminal hair in androgen-sensitive areas of the female body, is a common problem occurring in approximately 10% of women. Terminal hairs are larger diameter, more pigmented and longer than the soft, usually nonpigmented vellus hairs that occur over large parts of the body. Hirsutism is different from hypertrichosis, a generalised increase in body hair, which may be hereditary or related to medications.

Picture credit: © Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust/SPL. Model used for illustrative purposes only.