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Eur J Clin Invest. 2012 Jan;42(1):86-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2362.2011.02550.x. Epub 2011 May 30.

Non polycystic ovary syndrome-related endocrine disorders associated with hirsutism.

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Department of Endocrinology Erciyes University Medical School, Kayseri, Turkey.



Hyperandrogenism refers to classical androgen-dependent signs such as hirsutism, acne and androgenetic alopecia. Hirsutism is the main hyperandrogenic symptom, defined as an excess of body hair in the androgen-sensitive skin regions of the women. In this review, we attempt to focus on the pathogenesis of hirsutism related to disorders other than polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Also, we will discuss their clinical and biochemical features as well as therapeutic options.


Several original articles, meta-analysis and reviews have been screened in the field of hirsutism and hyperandrogenic disorders.


Current English literature including our studies suggests that PCOS is the most common cause of hirsutism. The most important purpose for investigation is to identify those women with androgen-secreting tumours because of their life-threatening potential. In approximately 1-8% of the women with hirsutism, the underlying cause is nonclassical adrenal hyperplasia because of 21-hydroxylase deficiency. Depending on ethnicity and the geographic area, idiopathic hirsutism constitutes 5-17% of the patients with hirsutism. Approximately 3% of hyperandrogenic women were observed to suffer from hyperandrogenic-insulin-resistant acanthosis nigricans syndrome. More rare causes are glucocorticoid resistance syndrome, hyperprolactinemia, acromegaly, Cushing's syndrome and some drugs. Specific causes of hirsutism such as Cushing's syndrome and adrenal/ovarian tumours should be treated specifically. In other patients, pharmacological approach is the mainstay of therapy.


A number of patients presenting with hirsutism and exhibiting similar features to PCOS may have other underlying diagnoses. Unlike PCOS, some of these disorders can occasionally be life threatening and require prompt diagnosis and treatment.

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