Evaluation and treatment of women with hirsutism

Am Fam Physician. 2003 Jun 15;67(12):2565-72.


Hirsutism is a common disorder, often resulting from conditions that are not life-threatening. It may signal more serious clinical pathology, and clinical evaluation should differentiate benign causes from tumors or other conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome, late-onset adrenal hyperplasia, and Cushing's syndrome. Laboratory testing should be based on the patient's history and physical findings, but screening for levels of serum testosterone and 17alpha-hydroxyprogesterone is sufficient in most cases. Women with irregular menses and hirsutism should be screened for thyroid dysfunction and prolactin disorders. Pharmacologic and/or nonpharmacologic treatments may be used. Advances in laser hair removal methods and topical hair growth retardants offer new options. The use of insulin-sensitizing agents may be useful in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Female
  • Hirsutism / diagnosis
  • Hirsutism / etiology*
  • Hirsutism / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Physical Examination