A Guide To Understanding PCOS And How It Impacts Your Options For Removing Unwanted Body And Facial Hair

If you are a woman who has suffered from PCOS, one of the most obvious problems that others may see is often your hirsutism. Extra facial and body hair is an all too common problem, and, unfortunately, many of the more common hair removal techniques don't work as well for women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, otherwise known as PCOS or PCO in some areas. The good news is that many women have found success and smooth skin by working closely with an experienced dermatologist, using one or more of the following techniques.

Understanding Why The Problem Exists

Your primary physician, OB/GYN or endocrinologist may have already informed you that your excess body and facial hair is probably the result of the extra androgens in your body that PCOS is known for. Specifically, the higher levels that many women with PCOS have are closer to the levels that a man has and, therefore, you are likely to have unwanted hair. In addition, you may notice that it is thicker, coarser and grows back faster, when untreated, than the hair of your unaffected friends and family members.

It is important to note that hair removal techniques will usually remove at least some of the excess body and facial hair that plague so many PCOS sufferers. However, it is best combined with a treatment plan from your doctor to help you treat the underlying issue that causes the unwanted hair in the first place.

Your doctor may suggest the use of:

  • Hormones, including birth control pills

  • Insulin sensitizing drugs

  • Dietary changes and/or weight loss

Knowing What Works

Many women with PCOS spend years hiding in the bathroom, shaving their faces daily with a full face of shaving cream and hoping nobody notices their razor burn or occasional cuts. Although it may work short-term, a 5:00 shadow cannot always be covered up by makeup and the problem will often get worse over the years. Plucking, waxing, and over-the-counter hair-dissolving creams may also work temporarily, but skin irritation and ingrown hairs are common and embarrassing side effects.

Fortunately, there are several options that your dermatologist can provide that have proven effective. One new one is the use of prescription facial creams that have been proven to effectively treat unwanted facial hair in women, although you should avoid its use if you are pregnant or may become pregnant while using it.

Electrolysis is a viable choice that uses electricity applied directly the root of a hair follicle to destroy it, with the goal being to end its ability to produce new hair. Laser therapy works in a similar manner, using a precisely aimed laser beam to accomplish the same purpose. You may need multiple treatments for full effect, and it is a good idea to remember that they are long-term treatments that cannot be classified as permanent. Some women have experienced mild re-growth many months after their treatments ended, requiring a follow-up visit or two for continued benefit.

In conclusion, hair removal is a big problem for many women who have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. If you want smooth and attractive skin again, it is time to speak with your dermatologist about the options listed above.

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