Big news out of Georgia Health Sciences University this week. Apparently, two male physicians have found a “reliable, minimally invasive way to screen” for whether a woman has too much of a male hormone. They examine a women’s chin area for excessive hair growth, “a key indicator of too much male hormone, researchers report.” The male hormone is called androgen and women who produce to much develop hirsutism or excessive body hair.
Can you imagine the incredible amount of research that must have gone into this study! Unfortunately, Dr. Ricardo Azziz, reproductive endocrinologist and President of Georgia Health Sciences University claims ” this approach is approximately 80 percent accurate.” I would think if a woman has a full beard, that’s going to be a 100 percent diagnosis. Of course, this new exam which focuses on the chin and eight other areas is the big story for Georgia Health Sciences University. They have developed a modified version of visual analysis to determine androgen excess, cutting out three different areas..
Why the change? Dr. Azziz says they want to be less intrusive. Doctors use the Ferriman-Gallwey score developed by….men (which bears their name)… in 1961 and used a method of scoring by viewing 19 body areas and rating hair growth. The “new improved” scoring focuses on 9 areas:
- Upper lip
- Upper Back, Lower Back
- Upper abdomen
- Lower abdomen
- Upper arms
Prior to a modification in 2001, doctors used to visually assess 19 areas which also included: sideburns, neck, buttocks, inguinal area, perianal area, foot, toes, fingers. Does anyone else think this is a little inappropriate even for a medical examine. If a woman displays a beard, mustache and chest hair, it is really necessary to look in the anal area for excessive hair growth? I find it impossible to believe that reviewing the the first three areas, upper lip, chin and chest, are not enough to make a case for excessive androgen disorder.
If only there were a blood test to test hormone levels…OMG! There is! In fact, HealthyWomen.org spells out a diagnosis that doesn’t require a full body scan AND it’s a blood test. Eureka!
To the millions of women out there – DO YOUR HOMEWORK! We do it for our kids, our family, our spouses, but rarely do we focus on us. Do not let someone poke around your body without knowing the facts. Be Empowered.
PS. You can’t diagnosis yourself on the Internet. I’ve tried. Seek professional attention if you suspect something that may require medical treatment.