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Ask Dr. Gott 2/27

Facial hair limits woman's social life

DEAR DR. GOTT: I am a 43-year-old woman with an embarrassing and socially crippling condition. I have hair growth where other women don't — on my chin, neck, stomach and buttocks. I have to shave my chin and neck every morning, and, by 6 p.m., I have stubble. I won't let anyone see me first thing in the morning, so I always sleep alone. If I want to go out at night, I have to go home and shave again first, so there is no going out with my friends after work. It has affected every aspect of my life. I don't let anyone get close to me, physically or emotionally, except for my children. I have kept this a secret from everyone for years. I have tried many over-the-counter treatments, but it just seems to get worse. I am a divorced mother of three, and I have regular menstrual cycles, so I don't know if it could be hormonal. I haven't been to a doctor about it because I am too ashamed and embarrassed. Is there anything, other than expensive laser treatments, to remove this hair growth? I am desperate for help.
    DEAR READER: Your description raises the issue of a hormone imbalance, particularly of the male hormone testosterone, which women manufacture in small quantities in most cases. You need to have your hormone levels checked. I urge you to follow up with your primary-care physician or your gynecologist. Although you may end up in the care of an endocrinologist, this seems like a reasonable first step in getting to the root of this embarrassing problem. Please do not ignore my advice. See a doctor now.
    DEAR DR. GOTT: Would you know of a book that would explain medical tests? When we get copies of our blood work, we don't know what it all means. Our doctors and nurses don't have the time to explain it to us. We can't improve if we don't know what the problem is.
    DEAR READER: Forget the book. It may lead to further confusion.
    Your physician has the responsibility to sit down with you and your husband and discuss 1. what tests he or she has ordered, 2. what the tests show, and 3. what activity (with respect to treatment or monitoring) would be appropriate. He or she needs to take the time to answer your questions. Insist on it.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Blood: Donations and Disorders."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I am wondering if rocking has any harm or benefits. I am 79 and getting a lot of arthritis. I love to sit and rock, whenever I am resting. Does that aggravate arthritis, or would it help keep me limber?
    DEAR READER: Although rocking is not a high-energy activity, if it is pleasurable, I urge you to continue it. It will neither aggravate your arthritis nor keep you limber. It's just fun and relaxing. More people our age should be encouraged to rock, not rock-and-roll!

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