Depending on ethnicity, as many as one in 10 women has hirsutism -- male-pattern hair growth. Most of the time, this means a woman has a hormonal imbalance. But one in five hirsute women have normal hormone function. Doctors call this idiopathic hirsutism. Can drugs used to treat the more common forms of the problem work for these women?
The answer is yes, says a report in the April issue of the journal Fertility and Sterility. Franco Lumach, MD, and Riccardo Rondinone, MD, of the University of Padua, Italy, compared three different drug treatments:
- Aldactone, a diuretic and testosterone inhibitor
- Propecia, a male hair-growth drug that blocks testosterone
- Cyproterone acetate, a male-hormone blocker used in oral contraceptives. This drug is not available in the U.S.
Lumach and Rondinone randomly treated 41 women -- all with idiopathic hirsutism -- with one of the three drugs for 12 months. They examined them after six and 12 months of treatment, and again one year after completing treatment.
At the end of treatment, all of the drugs had significant effects. They dropped the women's hirsutism score from abnormal to normal. But a year later, Aldactone was the clear winner.
"In patients with idiopathic hirsutism, the short-term results of treatment with [the three drugs] are similar, but [Aldactone] is effective for a longer time," they conclude.
Aldactone had another advantage: It's less expensive than the other two drugs.
SOURCE: Fertility and Sterility, April 2003