How do I manage unwanted hair growth as someone assigned female at birth?

1) Dear Alice,

I have a really embarrassing problem... I have hair on my chest and I am a woman! It's not really thick, but it's very noticeable, and I hate it! Is this a hormone problem or is it normal? Please help, 'cause to me, it's gross and I will do anything to get rid of it. I have been shaving it, but it just grows back within a few days or so. Please help!


2) Dear Alice,

I am a 24 year old female and for the past few years I have had facial hair. I tend to get it on my chin and the side of my face. It is usually light but you can feel it, and I will never let my boyfriend touch my face unless I have just shaved it.

I don't want to go for laser treatment, is their anything else you could suggest? I feel disgusting and very unwomanly.

Dear CONFUSED AND HAIRY and Reader, 

It may seem like you’re in a hairy situation, but don’t worry, you’re not alone. What you’re experiencing may be related to hirsutism, a condition of excessive hair growth caused by a hormonal imbalance. In fact, this may affect anywhere between 10 to 50 percent of people assigned female at birth. When it comes to reducing body hair, there are a number of methods that you may use. ’s considered excessive can be subjective. Beauty standards around hair on those assigned female at birth is constantly changing and hairlessness on certain body parts is a relatively new norm in some cultures. What’s important to take away is that it’s ultimately up to you what you do with your body and hair. 

One possibility for the hair you're finding on your chest or chin is hirsutism. This is often caused by excess androgens—type of hormone that includes testosterone. While those assigned female at birth usually have some androgens, high levels can be caused by underlying conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), Cushing syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, tumors, and certain medications. Some additional risk factors can include a family history of hirsutism, obesity, and being of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, or South Asian descent. If you're experiencing rapid hair growth or signs of physical characteristics typically present in those assigned male at birth, such as a deepening voice or decreased breast size, it may be time to visit with a health care provider. They may refer you to a medical specialist, such as an endocrinologist or dermatologist for further evaluation. 

Hair growth due to hirsutism usually poses no physical harm, so the choice of treatment mostly depends on your preferences. Some may opt for shaving, waxing, sugaring, or hair removal creams. Others may turn to more long-term solutions, such as using lasers or electrolysis. If these methods don’t work to your satisfaction, you may want to speak with a health care provider about treatments that may get at the root cause of what you’re experiencing. 

While you've both expressed concerns about how your hair makes you feel, you may also think about the role that hair and hairlessness plays in societal norms and expectations. The move towards hairlessness began in the early 1900s and is a relatively new phenomenon. It was driven by fashion photography, increased privacy in bathrooms, marketing campaigns from razor companies, and changing fashion trends. Today, this norm is reinforced through images of hairless women in social media. That said, this lack of hair is a social construct, not a reflection of you, and having no body hair is unrealistic and may be a sign of certain medical conditions. 

As you think about how you want to move forward, you may also ask yourself these questions: Why do you want to remove the hair? What about it makes you feel uncomfortable or disgusted by it? How do you expect your life to change when it's removed? Thinking through these questions may help you figure out what steps you want to take next. 

You're not alone in dealing with these feelings and choices. To help navigate these emotions and choices, you might consider checking out organizations like About Face that empower women to challenge media’s messaging. If you're finding your experiences are affecting your mental health, you may consider meeting with a mental health professional to help you work through your feelings and make choices that help you feel comfortable and confident. Finally, for more information about body norms and myths, check out the Go Ask Alice! archive. 

Here’s to rocking your own style, hair and all!

Last updated Jan 12, 2024
Originally published Feb 06, 2004