Hirsutism: Definitions and etiology

Risto Erkkola, Kristiina Ruutiainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hirsutism as a sign of hyperandrogenism is a common endocrinological disorder in women. Its spectrum varies from mild forms with dominating psychic component to severe forms associated with virilization. The severity should be assessed by semiobjective scoring systems, the use of which also allows the systematic follow-up of the results of treatment. An increase in serum androgen levels or an increased turnover of androgens can be detected in most patients. Enhanced peripheral conversion of androgens to locally acting androgen also leads to hirsutism. The thorough investigation of the endocrinological milieu is required to rule out androgen producing neoplasms. In most patient, however, disturbances are functional, among which polycystic ovary syndrome is the commonest. It is a disorder exhibiting a complexity of changes in endocrinological interactions. Besides inappropriate gonadotropin secretion insulin and insulin like growth factor are also involved. The opioidergic system also seems to be affected. Polycystic ovary syndrome is also associated with obesity and infertility, both of which require attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-103
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Hirsutism
  • Hyperandrogenism
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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