In each installment of Ask a Doctor, your burning questions about hormones, menopause symptoms, sleep, sex, and more are answered by doctors who specialize in treating women in midlife.
This week: Dermatologist Dr. Anna Chacon explains why some of us suddenly grow hairs in unexpected places in midlife.
From out of nowhere, I seem to have grown a chin hair! I’ve never had hair grow on my chin or in any unexpected places before — why is it growing now, and what can I do about it? PS: Whenever I pluck it, it seems to grow right back.
Dr. Chacon says:
Women produce both estrogen and testosterone throughout our lives, and they exist in a balance within our bodies. During menopause, estrogen levels drop sharply — but our bodies still produce testosterone at relatively stable levels during this transition. In short, the testosterone is no longer balanced out by the estrogen.
Because of this, women in menopause might start to experience certain male secondary sex traits — such as coarse facial hair (or a pesty chin hair). Every body has different hair follicles, and each person's follicles can react differently to testosterone. So, some women might see an increase in chin, neck, facial, or other body hair during menopause, while others might not. (Interestingly, lower estrogen levels can also lead to hair loss in other areas, like the eyebrows and your scalp — it can cause hair follicles to shrink, and leads the body to produce weaker hair).
From a health perspective, a chin, neck or other body hair is normal and nothing to be concerned about. If the hair is unwanted, you have numerous options for removal. You might experiment with tweezing, waxing, sugaring (a form of waxing), electrolysis, or laser therapy (although these last two can be expensive). If the hair is located someplace delicate, like on the nipple, shaving is not recommended.