Defining hirsutism in Chinese women: a cross-sectional study

Fertil Steril. 2011 Sep;96(3):792-6. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2011.06.040. Epub 2011 Jul 18.


Objective: To determine the normative cut-off score that defines hirsutism among Chinese women, and the effect of age, menstrual irregularities, and polycystic ovaries on the same.

Design: Cross-sectional, population-based study.

Setting: A multistage systematic cluster random sampling among 16 communities from two rural and two city regions.

Patient(s): A representative sample of 2,988 women aged 20-45 years from the general population of Southern China.

Intervention(s): Subjects underwent physical and ultrasound evaluations.

Main outcome measure(s): Terminal hair growth was assessed using the modified Ferriman-Gallwey (mFG) scoring system.

Result(s): An mFG score ≥5 was observed in 10% and a score of ≥2 in 25% of the subjects. Cluster analysis identified an mFG score of 5 as the cut-off value that defines abnormal terminal facial and body hair growth in a male pattern (i.e., hirsutism) in the total population; scores of 6, 5, and 4 for women aged 20-25, 26-30, and >30 years, respectively. Defined by these cut-off values, the prevalence of hirsutism in our total population was 10.5%; and decreased with increasing age: 14.4%, 10.7%, 7.9%, 3.6%, and 1.5%, respectively, in women aged 20-25, 26-30, 31-35, 36-40, and 41-45 years. Furthermore, the incidence of acne, menses irregularities, polycystic ovaries, and acanthosis nigricans were significantly increased among the hirsute women.

Conclusion(s): An mFG score of 5 or greater indicates hair growth above the norm among women in the general Southern Chinese population, a cut-off value that decreases with increasing age.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Asian People / statistics & numerical data*
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hair / growth & development
  • Hirsutism / diagnosis*
  • Hirsutism / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Menstruation Disturbances / ethnology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / ethnology*
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Young Adult