Face it—your wife is probably going to grow facial hair one day (if she hasn’t already). And that’s totally fine. Facial hair can crop up during pregnancy, but women can also sprout some stubble during their menstruation cycles and as they age. Most of the time nothing to be alarmed by. But unless your spouse has a superior sense of humor, you might not want to bond over your ‘staches right out of the gate.
“The two main reasons why women get facial hair are hormones and genetics,” dermatologist Hal Weitzbuch told Fatherly. “While genetics and hormones play a role for men too, it is considered much more usual for men to have facial hair.”
Hirsutism, a condition when women have an excess of androgens such as testosterone (and the facial hair that comes with it), is fairly common and affects approximately 7 percent of cisgender women in the U.S. Hirsutism can be caused by polycystic ovarian syndrome, a painful and dangerous hormonal condition that causes enlarged ovaries and cysts, and it can also be a result of certain adrenal gland disorders or a side effect of medications such as steroids. At the same time, most minor facial hair growth is due to the normal hormonal give-and-take surrounding menstrual cycles, pregnancies, and menopause.
Hair growth can happen in multiple areas, such as above the lip, on the chin, lower abdomen, back, and inner thighs. But occasionally women will just get peach-fuzz, or one dark, wiry, rogue follicle that escapes from her chin once a month. Color, thickness really depends on the woman’s genetic predisposition. “The amount of time the hair is in anagen, or growth phase, the amount of pigment and type of pigment, and the thickness of the hair are all factors,” Weitzbuch explains.
If facial hair growth comes on very strong, suddenly increases rapidly, or doesn’t just seem to make sense based on family history, it could be a sign of an underlying medical issue like adrenal cancer. So it’s always important to consult with a doctor before jumping to a cosmetic cure. Still, for most women, getting a little facial hair is simply a natural part of aging. As women move toward menopause, their estrogen and progesterone levels to drop as their testosterone stays the same, creating a similar beardy hormonal imbalance to her period, the only difference is her hormones don’t rebound monthly.
As for removing it, shaving does not cause hair to grow back thicker and darker, research shows. But it will cause stubble, and not everyone is into that. Many women opt for hair removal options like tweezing and waxing. Laser hair removal has increased in popularity in recent years, but may not be the most practical choice for busy moms. In some instances, doctors can prescribe prescription pills and topical medications to mitigate growth. And of course, there’s always the option of taking it on the chin.
Aging makes facial hair in women somewhat of an inevitability, but men can rest assured plenty gross things will happen to their bodies as you get older, creating plenty personal insecurities to distract yourself with. Either way, don’t make a big deal about it and play it cool. Trust us on this one.
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