Women, are you plagued with hairs on your chinny, chin, chin? You know, those pesky curly hairs that seem to appear from nowhere and make you feel like a chia pet. Does the hair growth seem to coincide with a change in your weight?
Facial hair growth may seem like a trivial matter, but it can be an indication of a body under stress for those women who are obese as well. Obesity affects certain hormones that all play a role in facial hair development.
What’s causing the unwanted hair growth?
Facial hair or hirsutism is primarily caused by having an excess of androgens, a group of hormones that regulate the male reproductive system and female production of estrogen. Testosterone is the most active and familiar one.
Women produce far fewer androgens, but testosterone is essential for the production of estrogen. Most of the androgens are made by the ovaries and adrenal glands but some are made through a special conversion process that takes places in the skin, fat, liver and brain to create testosterone.
The science behind hirsutism in obese women
Aside from the hirsutism that occurs among certain ethnic groups and medical conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), obesity creates its own environment ripe for facial hair growth.
Obesity, particularly around the waist, impairs insulin signaling. This kind of fat, called visceral fat, laces itself among your organs, particularly your liver and interferes with normal metabolic pathways. The more fat around these vital organs, the more impaired insulin function.
To make up for this altered signaling, the body produces extra insulin for it to do its necessary work. This excess insulin stimulates the over-production of androgens. The extra androgens, particularly testosterone, act like fertilizer for your hair.
More fat, more testosterone produced during the conversion process
Ladies, don’t underestimate the power of the conversion process mentioned earlier. The more fat you have, the more testosterone the body produces through the conversion process.
If your facial hair is bothering you and you are overweight, losing fat will improve your insulin function. When insulin function improves, insulin levels decline, reducing the extra stimulation of androgen production. That means less facial hair growth, yay!
Facial hair and type 2 diabetes
Facial hair growth is also strongly associated with impaired insulin signaling. Impaired insulin signaling is the precursor to type 2 diabetes. Hirsutism among obese women is the body’s way of saying:
“Ha, you don’t treat me so nicely; I will give you chin hairs, so there!”
In all seriousness, there are many reasons to lose weight, but sometimes it’s the annoying reasons that can motivate someone the most.
Impaired insulin function can only go on so long before the insulin-producing pancreas gets exhausted. Without lifestyle changes the pancreas eventually stops making insulin and type 2 diabetes ensues.
Fortunately, people are screened more often for prediabetes. Early detection of diabetes in the prediabetes stage offers the opportunity to make the necessary lifestyle changes before permanent damage is done to the pancreas. Hirsutism among obese women is the body’s way of giving a warning.
Finding motivation to make lifestyle changes
Facial hair is annoying, and thankfully easily treatable but you must go beyond your face and understand what could be going on in your body. Improving insulin function doesn’t require drastic lifestyle changes. The findings of the Diabetes Prevention Program proved losing just 7% of your weight and getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise along with two fifteen minute sessions of strength training a week, will help insulin function and reduce the annoying hair growth on your chinny, chin, chin.
Barbara specializes in helping people lose weight and improve their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please “share” her articles and “like” her facebook page to help spread the word!