Q. A doctor has prescribed spironolactone to my 22 year old daughter for hirsutism. Is that drug effective and safe?
A. Spironolactone (Aldactone) is a diuretic used to control high blood pressure, but it is also prescribed to treat unsightly facial hair growth in women. This condition is sometimes associated with an excess of male hormones (androgens). Spironolactone has anti-androgen action and counteracts this problem. Side effects may include drowsiness, diarrhea, cramping, and menstrual irregularities.
Animal studies have raised questions about the long-term safety of this medication, however. It causes tumors in rats and the FDA has cautioned that “Unnecessary use of this drug should be avoided.”

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  1. Kim

    I took Spironolactone between ages 15 and 19 for hirsutism. I took it in combination with a birth control pill to help with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome issues, and it worked awesomely. Shortly after beginning the med, my hair got finer and lighter colored, my acne cleared up, my cramps stopped almost completely. I stopped taking it because I was no longer covered under my previous insurance. I was still on the birth control meds but all of my PCOS issues came back, including the hair.
    I never noticed mood issues before (maybe because I was a teenager), but a few years later now I am back on the drug and having some difficulties. It isn’t drastic, but I am noticing a bit more irritability. Otherwise Spironolactone has helped to move my weight away from my belly and into more feminine areas, get rid of acne and facial hair, and even thinned my eyebrows a bit. I love this medication.

  2. KR

    What would you suggest for unsightly facial hair? I have a few of those, and also, as my sister calls them, “man elbows”. They have pretty long black hair on them. I’ve always had hairy arms, but now it seems to growing around the underside of my arm. I’m 40 years old, still have regular periods, but maybe this is a hormone issue? I do have PMDD.

  3. D.V. IBANEZ

    Thanks for the information. I was considering the drug, but I’m glad I had your source to guide me, this drug is not for me.

  4. Loretta

    I’ve suffered with facial hair all my life… especially on my upper lip. I suffered thru the constant bleaching, then depilatories (which burned my face terribly), then thru waxing (which also burned my face many times), eventually relying on constant plucking with tweezers… my nightly ritual for years. I got so tired of that so I bought a mini electric razor and started shaving it.
    Then I decided to spend the money and get the laser hair removal. It worked extremely well! I suggest you don’t wait until your hair starts turning grey, because the laser will only zap the dark hairs.
    I’m very happy that I got the laser treatment and I highly recommend it. If you have resorted to shaving over the years, you will have to stop that and let it grow back before you can get good results with the laser treatment. Try to find a dermatologist who your friends have gone to and gotten results. Not all dermatologists are what they are cracked up to be.

  5. lcf

    My husband was prescribed this medication for a heart condition. He is usually an easy-going individual with a pretty laid-back personality. Shortly after taking Spironolactone, his personality started to change. I thought I was living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! He was irritable, critical and downright nasty. A followup trip to the doctor’s office revealed that mood changes were part of the side effects of this med. My husband stopped taking it immediately and guess what? He is back to his sweet self. Turned out he didn’t need the med after all.

  6. Dot F.

    Aldactone also causes increased breast size in both women and men. My husband was on Aldactone prior to liver transplant and it has taken him 10 years to lose his “man” breasts. Our daughter was also prescribed the medication and she has considered breast reduction surgery. In my husband’s case it was prescribed for edema, but knowing what we do now we would have asked for something different.

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