Hair growth on the body, especially on the belly, is unusual for women and can be quite disturbing. Learning the reasons for abnormal hair growth on the stomach can help you discuss your condition and overall health with your doctor to find ways to minimize your self-consciousness.
Abnormal hair growth in women is called hirsutism. Women who suffer from this condition often develop body hair on the face, back and belly. The cause is having too much testosterone, a male hormone, in your body. Everyone has some level of testosterone, but if you've got more male hormones in relation to female hormones, you can begin to develop signs of secondary male sex characteristics, including body hair growth. Pregnancy is another cause for unusual hair growth on the belly. During pregnancy, hormone levels rise and can cause a variety of temporary side effects -- including acne, changes in skin tone and unwanted body hair growth.
Unless a woman suffers from a condition that causes her to lose body hair, she already has very fine, light hair covering her stomach and most of her body. Abnormal body hair growth that's the result of hirsutism, pregnancy or other medical conditions is much more noticeable than the peach fuzz most women have. The hair is generally darker, heavier and coarser.
Treatment and Hair Removal
Treating abnormal belly hair growth varies, depending on the cause. Your doctor can run blood tests to measure your hormone levels, and may give you medications to balance your hormones. Once your hormonal balance is restored, you may begin to see shedding of the coarse hair. If the hair makes you uncomfortable, you might also need to resort to a hair removal method while you're waiting for the drugs to become effective. Pregnant women are not treated for hirsutism, as the condition is usually temporary. Removal methods for unwanted hair on the stomach are largely the same as those you would choose to remove hair from your legs and bikini area. They include shaving, waxing, chemical removal through depilatories and laser treatments. The cost and long-term effectiveness varies among these methods; your insurance company may or not may cover more extensive electrolysis or laser treatments.
Pregnant women who want to get rid of coarse, dark belly hair should stick to old-fashioned shaving, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Though waxing or electrolysis have not been proven to be dangerous to your unborn child, your skin may be more sensitive during your pregnancy and these methods can be very painful. The chemical component of depilatories has not been studied well enough to recommend during gestation.
The underlying reason for your abnormal hair growth, as well as the treatment method you choose, determines the time frame for losing the unwanted hair. After giving birth, your hormone levels continue to fluctuate; you'll see this evidenced by the fact that you may lose more of your scalp hair in the first few months after your baby is born. The American Academy of Dermatology says that most women who develop significant belly hair see a reversal of the condition within six months. Improvement of the condition in those who suffer from non-pregnancy hirsutism may take more or less time to resolve based on the specific medications prescribed to even out a hormone imbalance.
A 2008 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine reports that women who used a testosterone supplement spray to boost their libido may end up with abnormal hair growth as a side effect. The study participants applied the spray to their abdomen and reported an improvement in desire, but those who used higher doses often experienced excessive hair growth at the application site. Women who choose medical therapy to increase libido should be aware of the possible side effects associated with higher doses of testosterone.
- KidsHealth From Nemours: 10 Things That Might Surprise You About Being Pregnant
- American Pregnancy Association: Hair Removal During Pregnancy
- Babycenter: How Can I Get Rid of Excess Body Hair While Pregnant
- Office on Women's Health: Skin and Hair Health
- "New York Times"; Nostrums: Testosterone and Sex Drive in Women; Eric Nagourney; Apr. 22, 2008.