The 6 Best Hair Removal Treatments for Women with PCOS

PCOS can present a number of unpleasant symptoms, and among the most difficult of them to manage is hirsutism – an excess of dark or coarse hair that grows on the face, neck, chest, back, tummy caused by high level of androgens (commonly known as “male” hormones). In fact, in one study, hirsutism was reported as being the most distressing symptom of PCOS.

Why Does PCOS Cause Hirsuitism?

Understanding the underlying causes of hirsutism in PCOS is crucial for managing this condition effectively. In this section, we will explore the reasons behind hirsutism in women with PCOS, providing you with the knowledge and empowerment to take control of your health and well-being.

Hormonal Imbalances

PCOS is primarily characterised by hormonal imbalances in women, particularly an excess of androgens, often referred to as "male hormones." This hormonal imbalance can lead to the development of hirsutism. Androgens such as testosterone can stimulate the growth of hair follicles in areas typically associated with male pattern hair growth, resulting in unwanted hair in women.

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance, a condition where cells have difficulty absorbing glucose from the bloodstream, is common in women with PCOS. Elevated insulin levels can stimulate the production of androgens, further exacerbating the hormonal imbalance. This increased androgen production can contribute to the development of hirsutism^1.

Genetic Factors

Genetics may also play a role in the development of hirsutism in women with PCOS. Studies^1 have suggested that certain genes involved in androgen regulation may be linked to an increased risk of developing hirsutism. While genetics cannot be changed, understanding your individual risk factors can help guide your treatment options and management strategies.

Lifestyle Factors

While hirsutism in PCOS is primarily influenced by hormonal imbalances, some lifestyle factors^2 can contribute to its severity. These factors include obesity, stress, and poor dietary choices. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular physical activity and a well-balanced diet, can help manage the symptoms of hirsutism in PCOS.

Managing Hirsutism

If you do have hirsutism, you may be seeking the best hair removal treatment for people with PCOS. There are, thankfully, many options for managing hirsutism but which is best for you?

Of course, if you do choose to head down the route of hair removal (which you most definitely don’t have to), the best treatments are down to personal preference. So, keep scrolling to read all about PCOS hair removal treatments available.

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6 of the best hair removal treatments for people with PCOS

1. Laser hair removal

Although not the most affordable PCOS hair removal treatment, laser hair removal can be incredibly effective.

It works by using heat to destroy hair follicles, which helps to reduce the amount of hair or slow hair growth. It’s not permanent, but it is a long-term solution.

It’s fairly painless – many people say hair removal treatment stings a little and sometimes results in a small amount of redness, which soon fades – and side effects include blistering and alterations in skin pigmentation, but these are uncommon.

If you think laser hair removal might be for you, be sure to seek out a suitably qualified professional.

2. Shaving

Obvious pros to shaving: it’s quick, low-cost, and easily done in the comfort of your own home.

There are a few drawbacks to shaving, though. Firstly, whilst it doesn’t actually result in increased hair growth as some myths might has us believe, it does leave hair with blunt edges which causes stubble regrowth – not preferable for some.

Then, there’s the fact that shaving can cause ingrown hairs and shaving rash. Finally, it requires regular upkeep.

If shaving is your hair removal treatment of choice, prioritise exfoliation, using a sharp – not blunt – blade, and moisturising.

3. Hair removal creams

The Nairs and Veets of hair removal. These ointments are called depilatory creams, and work by dissolving hair using chemical formulas.

On the plus side, they’re an affordable, at-home option for PCOS hair removal. The creams are easy to apply then, after a short wait, simply need to be washed off. Bingo.

That said, hair removal creams aren’t for everyone. The chemicals can cause skin irritation (and should therefore be patch-tested before use) – particularly when used on sensitive areas like the face.

4. Waxing

No, not everyone’s cup of tea, but waxing is a solid solution for hair removal.

For the uninitiated, it essentially involves hot wax being applied to hairy skin in a thin layer. A piece of cloth is then placed on the wax, and when the wax cools and hardens the cloth is whipped off, taking the hairs with it.

It’s, as you may well know, not totally painless (and some areas might be more prone to soreness than others), but it is quick and lasts a few weeks.

Costs can wrack up if you opt for salon waxing, but at-home kits are available too.

5. Electrolysis

If permanent hair removal is what you’re after, electrolysis might be worth considering.

In short, electrolysis involves having tiny needles inserted into hair follicles to pass through an electrical current which destroys the follicle and prevents it from producing hair.

We won’t sugar-coat it, electrolysis can cause mild, stinging pain, and result in redness that soon fades.

The biggest drawback is the cost – electrolysis can be pricey, and it can take a few rounds to get the desired results. If you do decide to proceed with it, though, do your research before choosing a qualified professional.

6. Medication

Hirsutism can be treated with prescribed medication, including some variations of the contraceptive pill.

Outcomes and side effects vary depending on the specific medication, and it can take a little while for prescribed treatment to take effect. But, medication treats hirsutism – the cause of excess hair growth – as opposed to managing symptoms as other hair removal methods do.

Discuss medication options with your GP to learn the benefits, risks, and which treatment might be right for you.

Final Thoughts

If you are experiencing hirsutism or any other symptoms of PCOS, it's essential to consult with a doctor or healthcare professional. They will be able to provide you with an accurate diagnosis and guide you through the treatment options available. Whether it's medications to regulate hormones, lifestyle changes, or cosmetic treatments, working closely with your healthcare team can help you find the approach that works best for you. 

Living with hirsutism in PCOS can take an emotional toll on women. It's crucial to practice self-care and seek support from friends, family, or support groups. Engaging in activities that boost your self-esteem and confidence can help you cope with the impact of hirsutism on your daily life. 

In conclusion, the cause of hirsutism in women with PCOS is primarily attributed to hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, and genetic factors. While the condition can be challenging, understanding the underlying causes empowers you to take proactive steps toward managing your symptoms. By seeking medical advice and embracing self-care, you can navigate your PCOS journey with confidence and empower yourself to live a fulfilling life.


*Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not replace medical advice. Please consult with a doctor or healthcare professional for personalised guidance.

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1. Spritzer PM, Marchesan LB, Santos BR, Fighera TM. Hirsutism, Normal Androgens and Diagnosis of PCOS. Diagnostics (Basel). 2022 Aug 9;12(8):1922. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics12081922. PMID: 36010272; PMCID: PMC9406611.

2. Lim SS, Hutchison SK, Van Ryswyk E, Norman RJ, Teede HJ, Moran LJ. Lifestyle changes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019 Mar 28;3(3):CD007506. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007506.pub4. PMID: 30921477; PMCID: PMC6438659.