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Drug Saf. 2001;24(4):267-76.

A risk-benefit assessment of pharmacological therapies for hirsutism.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, New York 10032, USA.


In recent years, many new therapeutic regimens for hirsutism have been introduced. This has considerably enlarged the different choices of the physician but at the same time has produced considerable confusion and uncertainty as to what is the best possible therapy for the single patient or for the different pathologies of this condition. This review presents data on the characteristics, adverse effects and effective dosage for the more commonly used drugs for hirsutism. In most patients, low doses of antiandrogens (cyproterone acetate, flutamide or spironolactone) are used with few adverse effects and good results in terms of improvement of the hirsutism. Patients with severe hyperandrogenic hirsutism may require larger doses of antiandrogens. In only a few patients, therapy with agents that primarily reduce androgen secretion (mostly a gonadotropin releasing hormone agonist) is needed. In responsive patients, dexamethasone may be used at low doses (associated with an antiandrogen) to prolong the length of the remission. Finally, agents that inhibit 5alpha-reductase activity (finasteride) may be used as alternative to low dose antiandrogen therapy but the results are often less satisfactory.

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