Hirsutism is usually caused either by an increase in androgen production by the ovary or adrenal or it may be due to increased sensitivity of the hair follicle to normal amounts of circulating androgens. The diagnostic possibilities can be resolved on clinical grounds by laparoscopy and by hormone measurements. The commonest causes of this symptom are ‘idiopathic hirsutism’ and the polycystic ovary syndrome. Treatment is of the underlying condition or, when that is not possible, by local removal of hair or by the administration of oral contraceptives or glucocorticoids.
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