But I'm a Girl!
December 13, 2012 6:48 AM   Subscribe

At age 45 I'm noticing changes in the hair all over my body: less on my head; more on my chin; darker, thicker moustache; more on my feet. Bonus difficulty: I am a woman.

Um, what's happening to me? No other symptoms. Period has been a little irregular after coming off years of birth control. Gyno says it's normal.

I'm of Mediterranean & mixed heritage, so I've always had very dark hair with light skin - so my body hair has always been thickish and visible. I've always dyed my moustache, but now I can't seem to keep up -- it used to last a few weeks, but now within 5-7 days I'm seeing new, dark growth. The number of thick whiskers sprouting on my chin and along my jawline are horrifying. My toes used to have a sprinkling of light hair, now it's thick and dark, and even the tops of my feet have some dark hairs.

And then there's my head. My formerly thick head of shiny black hair. It's still thick on top, but the sides are getting very, very thin, which is giving me a homemade mullet-like hairdo. It's awful.

SAVE ME, Metafilter!
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Go to an endocrinologist and have your hormone levels tested. You are not too young to be experiencing the beginning of menopause.
posted by royalsong at 6:52 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Welcome to Middle Age.

I'd check with your doctor to confirm, but this sounds like a side effect of the Wacky Fun Hijinks that hits when the hormones start reshuffling around when we hit our 40's and 50's. May not be outright menopause yet, but maybe perimenopause or some other similar "the hormones are starting to get funky right about now" thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:56 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, go get your levels checked. Even if it's "normalish" the doctor may be able to help with the symptoms.
posted by Blisterlips at 7:00 AM on December 13, 2012

No difficulty here. Menopause 101: Less estrogen, more testosterone.

One of those things that society refuses to discuss completely, regardless of how normal and natural it is. But, you can always see a doctor as suggested if it bothers you.
posted by TinWhistle at 7:09 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

get your thyroid/parathyroid hormones checked too, not a doctor but having problems with these can cause hirsutism, or excessive hair in some areas, also can cause loss of hair.

otherwise consider laser hair removal- make sure you go to a place that specifically uses lasers for light skin/dark hair (more powerful and more effective lasers, but can be dangerous for darker skinned people or less effective on lighter hair, so a lot of American laser places use other lasers...). It's the MOST effective on hair like yours and should help reduce it considerably. It can be very expensive but this depends on where you live, some regions have quite affordable packages.
posted by saraindc at 7:30 AM on December 13, 2012

I used to have a widow's peak. I don't anymore. I do, however, spend a LOT of time with my threader having various and sundry hairs removed from unfortunate places. I'm 42.

FWIW, I had my thyroid and hormone levels checked and everything looks as it should although I did have a hysterectomy in July (I kept my ovaries). I chalk it up to perimenopause. I'm also African-American so I have solved the "less hair on my head" problem by simply shaving it all off. Now I don't even have to look at the grey. It sounds like you have a real attachment to your hair but if you're open to it, you might consider having a stylist talk to you about some fashionable hair cuts that would mask some of the thinning on the sides.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 7:41 AM on December 13, 2012

Honey, this is menopause. Just when you finally get your shit together, you get handed a whole new set of problems. (Like having to get up twice as early every day to get yourself looking half as good as you used to.)
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:46 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

In the interim, why not wax instead of bleach? This way you avoid the issue of inadvertently winding up with a luxurious blonde confederate general's moustache. (unless that is what you are aiming for.)
posted by elizardbits at 8:04 AM on December 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

Last time I got my legs waxed the nice lady asked if she should do my toes, too. When I cracked up and asked if I was turning into a Hobbit she said it was normal for women as they get older. Not that you should be getting medical advice from a waxer who you haven't ever met, but you might find it soothing to know that secretly us women in our forties are all much hairier than you'd think.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:25 AM on December 13, 2012

Your symptoms can be a sign of PCOS (specifically, the insulin resistance that accompanies it). See an endo for a full work-up.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:44 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

47, female, Filipina. This year I noticed my once luxuriously thick, shiny off the charts very strong scalp hair was thinning on top. I almost cried when I realized that my hair part looked much wider and my scalp seemed (at least to me) much more visible. Then noticed how much more often I had to clear the hair in the shower drain every morning. Boooooo.

Started taking Biotin, a vitamin supplement, about two months ago and I think it's finally kicking in. I notice much less hair loss and my scalp hair seems to be growing in.
posted by HeyAllie at 12:56 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm Indian, and have had strands of thick hair on my feet and toes since puberty. Just so you know it's not particularly freaky. :)

Anyway, yes, it sounds like menopause or a hormonal imbalance.
posted by redlines at 2:04 AM on December 14, 2012

It could be a symptom of a larger problem, but if your gyno says it's normal it's likely that they saw nothing in particular that would raise any red flags. I'm a little surprised that, at 45, these changes -- including irregular periods -- seem all that unexpected. The doctor didn't do a very good job of explaining what normal changes mean for you, or what other normal changes you can expect, so I think you really need to have a talk with them and see if any tests are in order. But yeah, these are definitely things that happen as you get older. Welcome to the club!

Started taking Biotin, a vitamin supplement, about two months ago and I think it's finally kicking in. I notice much less hair loss and my scalp hair seems to be growing in.

I also started taking it a few months ago, and I think I'm beginning to notice a difference. It may also just be boosting the Wishful Thinking gene.

As for practical advice for dealing with it, I'm a huge fan of Olay hair remover. It works very well and leaves no redness or irritation at all on my very sensitive skin. It's not cheap but lasts forever. Reviews are mixed, so YMMV.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:17 AM on December 14, 2012

There is also a prescription cream, Vaniqa, that slows hair growth.
posted by serena15221 at 5:41 AM on December 15, 2012

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