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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Community
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363243 tn?1331037450

African-American Women with PCOS and Hirsutism

Hello  everyone, I hope all is well. I was just diagnosed with PCOS although I've had symptoms of it since I was 12 (hirsutism) and I am now 36. My hirsutism was diagnosed as idiopathic because the testing I had did not indicate an elevated testosterone level. I don't know if the testing is more sophisticated now but I had new testing done and it did indicate that my free weak testosterone was elevated.

Anyway, I have a few hairs under my chin, a lot on my neck, chest, stomach, and inner thighs. I know...it's not attractive and very depressing. I pluck (which is not good for you and causes hyperpigmentation) and I shave. I've become very skilled at covering the hyperpigmentation up with concealer but I'm so tired of it. The plucking on my neck has caused so much hyperpigmentation that I have to conceal it or people would look at me and ask me, "What's wrong with your neck?" The skin on my chest also has hyperpigmentation and I only shave this area. I feel like a freak every time I shave my chest because I'm a woman and I'm a woman who loves makeup, clothes, fashion, shoes, etc. It just seems so wrong! If I wear low cut blouses I have to try to conceal the hyperpigmentation but it's difficult because the skin is not completely smooth and it looks like I've shaved so I'm always on the search for really nice big necklaces that would cover this part of my chest. It's difficult being me!!

If anyone can relate to me send me a message and let me know your struggle or what you've done to help this problem. It was difficult for me to share this because although I know it has to do with having PCOS and I did not cause this to happen, it still is embarrassing.

Also, I don't want to seem superficial or extremely vain because I do have other health concerns that are potentially much more damaging than the aesthetic ramifications of hirsutism but I just want to know if other African-American women are experiencing this because our skin is slightly different.

Thanks.
135 Responses
Avatar universal
hello, I am also an african american woman who is 27 and had symptoms of pcos since i was 14. I recently went to the doctor and they just told me that my testosterone levels werent high enough. but when i looked up pcos, i have every symptom including high blood  pressure (extremely high) and within the last month, hair loss at the crown of my head. My chin and neck are scarred from plucking and pulling and im just at my wits end with this. I went to sallys and got a bottle of "skin tight" and i notice that it minimized the ingrown hair bumps which makes my skin feel  and look ALOT smoother and i am looking for something for the hyperpigmentation. i understand what you have and been so frustrated with it because im the only one i know amongst my friends who have it. i hate looking in the mirror and my face is clear but my chin and neck are atrocious! a real confidence killer. let me know any pointers i can use.
1 Comments
I have been following this blog for a while now and today i felt like i should share my story because i was a victim too. I had endometriosis for 18 years and i never thought i would ever get a cure due to the terrible symptoms i had and this made it impossible for me to get pregnant even after 12 years of marriage and it was a serious issue. I got to know about Dr. Aleta who treated someone and the person shared a story of how she got a cure and let her contact details, i contacted Dr. Aleta and she actually confirmed it and i decided to give a try too and use her herbal medicine that was how my burden ended completely. My son will be 2 this december and i am grateful to God and thankful to her for medicine too. If you have (Endometriosis, PCOS, Fibroid, Ovarian cyst, Ectopic Pregnancy or any infertility issues) just reach her on (aletedwin @ gmail. com) she has professional advise and a cure too.
363243 tn?1331037450
Thanks for responding. I thought that I was a lonely soldier out here. PCOS is funny because you don't have to have every sign or symptom. My battle with hirsutism has been going on for a long time now and plucking and shaving has been my only uses. I tried TendSkin from Sephora but didn't notice a difference and I had a prescription for Vaniqua but I only used one tube. It's expensive and insurance doesn't pay for it.

I've seen Skin Tight but I thought it wouldn't work so I didn't buy it. My dermatologist told me that plucking is really bad because it causes ingrown hairs which causes the hyperpigmentation. It's a habit that's hard to break because I've been doing since I was 15.

It seem as if a dermatologist can help with the hyperpigmentation. I'm scheduling an appointment with mine to see if there are any available creams to lighten the dark spots and also to get another prescription of Vaniqua. Birth control pills with spironolactone can decrease hair growth, but I don't do well with synthetic hormones, so that option is out. My endocronologist told me that nothing he can give me will completely take the hair away. He talked about several options. Birth control and spironolactone, metformin, vaniqua and exercise. Losing a little weight has been shown to decrease hirsutism, but when I was thinner I had hirsutism just not as much.

This is an ongoing problem and I think the only options that will completely remove the hair is electrolysis and laser, both of which are expensive, and the laser hair removal can be tricky with dark skin.

I completely understand how you feel and I'm here for you when you get frustrated. If you learn anything let me know and I'll do the same.

Take care.
Avatar universal
hello. i am new to this site n it makes me feel better to kno that there are others out here wit the same problems. i am 24 and jus like you and others i have PCOS. i believe it started at 17. i had developed a cyst on my left ovary due to stress. i also have hair growing on my chest, chin, and face. and to top it off i have soo much free testosterone n not enough estrogen that my female features don't really show too much like small breast. now me n my fiance' are ready to concieve but because of my cyst n PCOS it is very difficult for us. i really don't kno of any cures but i kno prayer helps. it also help to kno that we are not alone out here. do you have any children at all. if i could just have me one, i will be happy.

god bless in ur quest....
363243 tn?1331037450
Hello, I wanted you to know that it is possible for you to have children if you have PCOS. I have two children. What makes it difficult for you to conceive? Is your menstruation regular and how big is the cyst in your ovary? I don't know if you have regular contact with your physician regarding this concern of your's because you should. A lot of women that have problems conceiving take the drug metformin and this seems to help.

I'm a little older than you (12 years older) but I've been dealing with excessive hair since I was 13. It started on my chest and then went to my neck and stomach and a little on my chin. I've become pretty good concealing it with shaving, plucking (which is bad for your skin and causes ingrown hairs) and then applying makeup over the hyperpigmentation. It's still extremely aggravating and it seems so masculine. I'm using the cream Vaniqua to see if this will decrease the hair and I've considered taking metformin (this drug apparently helps with hirsutism also) but I'm still thinking about that.

So, don't worry just arm yourself with the most information you can and become extremely active in whatever quest you may have. I also wanted you to know that I have elevated free testosterone but my total testosterone is normal. I also smaller breasts but I do have children and I also breast feed both of my children (my daughter for almost two years.) LOL! Yeah I know that's a long time....she had teeth too:-). Good luck and remember to pray and DON'T be passive in your search for health and children.

Take care
Avatar universal
Hi  coco727272,

I was recently diagnosed with PCOS.  I am not African American, I am of Sicilian decent.  I also have had problems with hursutism.  I had something called laser hair removal on my face to remove upper lip hair, chin, neck and "sideburn" hair.  It is really very effective and permanently removes hair as the laser kills the hair's root. You'll probably always have some hairs because you can grow new ones at any time in your life but it kills the hairs that are there.  When I had my first rounds of laser hair removal I had to stay completely out of the sun because it was only for people with lighter skin because the laser targets the dark hair. I have olive skin so I had to really let myself get pale.  However, in recent years the technology has improved and they now have lasers that will work on people with darker skin.  So the last time I they could use it on my skin even though it was darker.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone struggling with excess hair. While I still pluck a few hairs each day it had greatly improved my quality of life and my skin.  It really got rid of the bulk of my hair. If I had more money I would go back for more treatments. It is costly but in my opinion having some treatments is definitely worth the quality of life.  I would recommend searching for a place near you that does it but make sure they have the type of laser that can treat darker skin.  Also make sure you go some place reputable and not just some random salon.  Many doctors offices actually offer the service now so that is one option - your doctor may actually know someone.  Good luck and don't get discouraged!  I just had to tell you about the laser hair removal though because it's really improved my appearance and quality of life because now I don't spend so much time managing excess hair or feeling self-conscious.
Avatar universal
My cousin and I have the hair problems although hers is worse and since she started electrolysis she has no issues... I've had laser hair removal in the past. It was the best and the worst thing I could do. The hair was gone for like 3mos...but it was extremely painful because the pigment in my skin is darker.. I literally couldn't close my legs for 3 day! Yes I was ice packed down. But the hair went away. You have to do sessions and it takes at least 3 to inhibit the hair growth. Make sure someone who is familiar with African American and lasers. It is also a little pricey 300 per session but hey whatever works. Just be consistent with whatever.
1 Comments
I first had symptoms when i was 17 and was told that i had PCOS (thin people type PCOS) and was officially diagnosed at 22 ans now i am 35.  I have always had regular periods and unless on birth control pills were they irregular at times and I had a hard time getting pregnant because of the absent periods. I was always told by doctors that I would have a hard time conceiving so I would only go on the pill periodically which i did for more than 4 years, not for protection against getting pregnant, but just to get a period (since I was told it's not healthy to have less than 4 or so periods a year). Last time I went on a 3 month birth control pill and then stopped again because the medicine was not curing my pcos nor making me get pregnant. I went in search for a cure and ended up with so many drugs, medicine and even soaps that didn't work. I actually thought at a point that i was cursed that there is no cure for it, i was prepared to live like that till i read a testimony of a patient who suffered from pcos whose case was even worse than mine and how she was cured completely, I was amazed and at thesame time anxious and curious so i had to contact the doctor with the contact details that she left on the note. The doctor gave me so much hope and confidence with her kind words of encouragement to believe in myself and i was lifted because no one has ever given me hope like that before. I ordered the medicine, took it for 8 weeks and to my complete surprise, all the facial hairs, weight gain and all disappeared I ended up getting pregnant within a few weeks of completing the treatment! I was in shock. I think the main reasons it happened was that I never gave up and was ready to try alternative treatment so my body was back to normal. Before now i never enjoyed sex because it was very painful but now i do and my husband is the best thing that ever happened to me..  I hope this inspires some of you because I never in a million years would have thought that I would get pregnant and was getting frustrated and now our baby is due next month! You too can reach her on [***@****] for more information, advise and also how to place an order for yours.
363243 tn?1331037450
Thanks a lot for responding. I've thought about and researched laser hair removal. I want to do it but the cost of it has stopped me from getting it done. I'm going to save so that I can eventually, because it's extremely frustrating shaving and plucking.

Take care.
363243 tn?1331037450
Thanks for the advice. I've seen information about darker skin being harder to treat and having possible skin discoloration from the laser, so it's important to seek out a professional that understands darker skin and has experience treating it. This is a frustrating problem but I'm going to save so that I can have it done.

Take care.
Avatar universal
Coco, as well as all of the other ladies, I know that it is not easy to deal with this situation and the pressure that society puts on you.....On the other side of the coin, there are lots of people, men and women, who will recognize your beauty and value as a person instead of judging your appearance just because you happen to be hirsute.....I am sorry if people look at you strangely or put you down, but that does not make you an unattractive woman.....It is strength of character and personality that will define you....

Hang in there!
Avatar universal
I was recently diagnosed with PCOS, but have had issues with acne and facial/body hair for the last few years. In the last 8 months my skin issues have worsen.I'm currently threading once a week on my neck, under my chin and upper lip. It helps slow the growth of my hair but I still have regrowth weekly. I used to have clear skin and no facial hair so this has been a tough issue to deal with. When at work or out people stare at my face and neck when they talk to me and its so embarassing. I'm so self concious of my appearence. Going out without makeup isn't an option anymore, unless I'm at the gym. Right now I'm using derma e skinbiotics treament creme and skin lighten creme. I've been using both cremes for about 3 weeks to help with the acne and dark marks. It helps to keep my skin smooth and my breakouts are less.  Has anyone had negative side effects using birth control pills or stronger hormonal pills to deal with acne and hair growth? Also, what prescribed medications are people using for the hair? Any success with skin lighteners that don't use hydroquoine to help with dark marks? The products I currently use are all natural from the heath food store. Its great to have a forum to finally talk to people who can relate.
Thanks, I look forward to hearing from everyone.
Avatar universal
I'm Jewish, and I'm told that my hirsuitism is caused by a genetic disease common in semetic and african peoples. I'm on Spironolactone, which has softened my hair, and it has slowed down the hair growth,  some places my hair has gone, but this process takes months of taking the med (+6months) to see any difference. I still get hair on my chin, but most of my hirsuitism has been on my stomach, thighs and legs. I'm down to shaving every other day now, sometimes I can go 3 days. I was shaving twice a day in the summer before.  I'm too old to go on the pill, but I think this has worked better!
Avatar universal
Hi, I am writing an article about PCOS in African American women. If you would be interested in contributing your experiences, please send me an email at ***@****
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