Hirsutism: diagnosis and treatment

Arq Bras Endocrinol Metabol. 2014 Mar;58(2):97-107. doi: 10.1590/0004-2730000002923.


Hirsutism is defined as excessive terminal hair growth in androgen-dependent areas of the body in women, which grows in a typical male distribution pattern. Hirsutism is a common clinical problem in women, and the treatment depends on the cause. The condition is often associated with a loss of self-esteem. Hirsutism reflects the interaction between circulating androgen concentrations, local androgen concentrations, and the sensitivity of the hair follicle to androgens. Polycystic ovary syndrome and idiopathic hirsutism are the most common causes of the condition. A woman's history and, physical examination are particularly important in evaluating excess hair growth. The vast majority of women with hirsutism have the idiopathic variety, and the diagnosis is made by exclusion. Serum testosterone level>200 ng/dL is highly suggestive of adrenal or ovarian tumor. Treatment of hirsutism should be based on the degree of excess hair growth presented by the patient and in the pathophysiology of the disorder. Treatment includes lifestyle therapies, androgen suppression, peripheral androgen blockage, and cosmetic treatments. The current review discusses definition, pathogenesis, physiopathology, differential diagnosis, diagnostic strategies, and treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / blood
  • Female
  • Hair Follicle / physiology*
  • Hirsutism* / diagnosis
  • Hirsutism* / etiology
  • Hirsutism* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Hyperandrogenism / complications
  • Life Style
  • Medical Illustration
  • Physical Examination / methods
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / complications*
  • Sex Factors
  • Women's Health


  • Androgens