Menopause makes an inevitable passage in a woman's life, and with it comes a few uncomfortable physical symptoms. On top of hot flashes and night sweats, some women experience another unpleasant side effect: excess facial hair.
The female body has both male and female hormones, and until women hit perimenopause in the late 30s or early 40s, the female hormones dominate. With the arrival of perimenopause, estrogen levels begin falling and continue to decline through menopause and beyond. Sometimes the female hormones fall more quickly than the male hormones creating a testosterone imbalance.
Why Testosterone Imbalance Causes Excess Facial Hair
Before menopause, high levels of estrogen block the action of testosterone and other androgens on hair follicle receptors. When levels of estrogen wane, the blocking action is lifted and women experience unwanted hair growth in unusual places. Hair follicles contain an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme converts biologically active testosterone to a form called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which stimulates follicles to produce thicker, darker hairs. Some women also notice growth of darker, coarser hair on the chest or abdomen.
Dietary changes help correct testosterone imbalance and reduce symptoms. Helpful foods include fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, nuts, and seeds. Reducing consumption of fried and sugary foods also helps, and drinking spearmint tea reduces testosterone levels in the body. Women looking for an herbal remedy might consider maca, which helps regulate hormones but does not contain estrogen. Maca stimulates the pituitary and endocrine glands to produce hormones more efficiently, which helps restore balance.
Hair Removal Methods
Women can remove excess facial hair in a variety of ways. Tweezers make a good option for a few hairs, while waxing removes larger amounts effectively. Bleaching helps make hairs less noticeable, and many salon technicians offer a technique called threading to remove unwanted hair with a twisted string. Electrolysis works well on dark facial hair, but not as well on lighter hair.
Unfortunately, excess facial hair is a fact of life for some women during and after menopause. Luckily options are available in the form of dietary changes and hair removal. Women should consult with a health care professional to determine whether a testosterone imbalance exists and to discuss solutions.