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Dear Dr. Vanessa, What Can I Do About Hairy Areolas?

Wed, Jul 27, 2011

Advice, What's Up Doc?

photo via Flickr

Every few weeks, Dr. Vanessa Cullins, a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist and vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood¬ģ Federation of America, will be answering your questions here. To ask her your own question, click here.

Dear Dr. Vanessa,

My areolas are hairy — what can I do?!

– Sasquatch

Dear S,

In general having some hair on the areola, the circle of skin around the nipple, is perfectly normal. It’s just another area where body hair is likely to grow. There is no need to do anything about it. If you do decide you want to remove the hairs, it is easy to do with scissors or tweezers. Some women use hair removal products designed to use on the face, others have the hairs removed with waxing or electrolysis. Many women pluck them, but others warn that plucking can disturb the hair follicle and cause ingrown hairs or infection.

If a woman has so much hair on her breasts that it seems like a man’s chest hair, she may have hirsutism (HER-soot-izm). This is caused by a hormonal imbalance, usually too much testosterone, the hormone most associated with masculinity. Hirsutism can be a symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which is also caused by hormone imbalance. Most women with PCOS develop multiple cysts in their ovaries, hence the name polycystic ovary syndrome. Other symptoms of PCOS may include acne, infrequent periods, longer periods, obesity, and difficulty becoming pregnant. PCOS can lead to diabetes and heart disease in some women.

If you think you have hirsutism, you should visit your health care provider for diagnosis and treatment. If you only have a few hairs around your nipples, you have nothing to worry about.

In the meantime, best wishes for your good sexual health,

Vanessa
Planned Parenthood

dr_vanessa_cullins

Vanessa Cullins, MD, MPH, MBA, is a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist and vice president for medical affairs at Planned Parenthood¬ģ Federation of America.

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