Hello Sweet Peas! Happy Wednesday and welcome to the fourth installment of the PCOS Diaries. Today we are going to be discussing what it is like to live with Hirsutism.
Hirsutism is one of the more noticeable and life-altering symptoms of PCOS and other such medical conditions. Due to the imbalance of testosterone in the body, unwanted facial hair begins to grow in places that would traditionally be seen on a man. The neck, sides of the face, chest, back, stomach, even toes are not shown mercy.
I’ve had a few people (who don’t have the condition) in my time with PCOS state ‘oh yeh, I get that too, it’s no big deal.’ And they gesture to the fine, pale peach fuzz on their face. No. That kind of facial hair is pretty standard for all women and can even be considered ‘cute’. Hirsutism causes course, thick, black hair to grow pretty much everywhere and at an alarmingly fast rate. You can shave the hair in the morning and by late afternoon it is starting to show again. But a 5 O’clock shadow on a woman is not as socially acceptable as it is on a man.
Women are often being shamed on social media when they embrace the hair and let it grow. The comment section becomes filled with uneducated, nieve slander; generally generated by men or women who have no idea what it is like to suffer from this condition.
I personally have been suffering from hirsutism since I was 11 years old. It started as a small patch of hair under my chin which I easily shaved every morning. As the years went on the patch grew bigger and the hair darker until it became impossible to hide without shaving. For the first time, I became painfully self-conscious about the problem.
But over the next decade, I learned to live with it and manage the hair. Here are some of my top pieces of advice for living with hirsutism.
ONE: Accept it – I’m not the type of person who wallows for long. When faced with difficulties I tend to look at it with the question; ‘Can I change this?’ If the answer is yes, work towards that change. If the answer is no, then wallowing will do nothing but make you miserable. Once you accept that this is something you have to deal with and take constructive steps to deal with it, living becomes a lot easier.
TWO: Develop a routine – There is nothing worse than leaving the house in a hurry and realising later in the day that the hair is more noticeable than you thought. To avoid this, don’t deal with the hair when you see it, instead develop a routine so that you don’t forget and get caught out. I always do my neck in the shower whenever I do my hair. By adding it to your regular routine it is no longer an extra task to think about. Whether it be every day, once a week or even once a month. Make time in your routine and it won’t seem such a task.
THREE: Choose your tools wisely – When I was younger I used a razor to remove the hair. I would quickly shave the hair using no water or shaving cream which resulted in razor rash and occasionally bleeding when the skin became particularly raw. Be sure to treat your body with respect and don’t put it through any un-needed discomfort by doing something like that! Depending on where the hair is and how often you need to remove it, the method of removal can vary but using the right tool is important. There are many different methods (check out my previous post here) and finding the one that suits you may some trial and error. Different methods of hair removal work depending on your skin sensitivity, pain tolerance and the amount of hair that needs to be removed. Don’t be disheartened if one method does not work for you, test out different techniques and experiment.
FOUR: Know your worth – As I previously mentioned, the media has a habit of showing hirsutism in a negative light. At one point I used to worry so much about what other people would think of the hair. Lately, I have discovered that I feel more comfortable in myself when I am honest about my condition and when people know the truth rather than making up their own answers. Take a mind over matter approach. If people mind about your hair then they don’t matter. Fill your life with supportive people and don’t give those who want to bring you down the satisfaction of succeeding.
I was recently approached by a TV reporter who wanted to film a piece on hirsutism. At first, I thought it was to raise awareness for the condition, unfortunately, it soon became apparent her intentions were to make a spectacle of the condition. Her report was going for shock factor rather than understanding. Needless to say, I backed out and instead began working on the PCOS Diaries series. Above everything, know that you do not have to listen to the negativity. Rise above it because you are worth so much better.
FIVE: Take care of yourself – It is easy to focus on the symptom itself and forget the cause. The hair is caused by hormonal imbalance. Although it can’t be completed cured it can be maintained through diet and supplements such as Inositol. Take care of your body on the inside and some of the external symptoms should subside. Remember to always go and see your GP if you are concerned!
All told, hirsutism is not a walk in the park, but it can be maintained and it does not define who you are. Marlyn Monroe, the biggest sex icon in history, suffered from hirsutism and shaved her face daily. This condition does not make you any less beautiful!
Believe in yourselves my Sweet Peas and keep your head held high!