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. Robyn
    United States
    Reply

    Ever since I had my son, my only child, I have gradually noticed hair on my chin. Before I became pregnant there was instances which stray hair would appear on my neck.. Now my son is 13, and my chin, all the way to left and right of my jaw (chin) plus under the jaw, and along the neck. The hairs are so coarse that when I shave or pluck upsets the hair follicle I get huge cystic acne.

    I have done over 12 sessions of laser hair removal – It never had an effect!! It was at that point I started to shave my face.. In order for the laser to be most effective you must not pluck. I spend over 30 minutes a day, with a 12x’s lighted mirror and $40 tweezers and shave 1 – 2 times a day with a Gillette fusion razor, which I replace every 3-4 days or else horrible razor bumps!

    I have been taking spironactone (spelling?) for over a month. I started at 25mg in morning then another at night. My doctor did regular blood work because potassium can be negatively affected. I did notice much more fragrant urine – strong ammonia scent. Currently I am taking 50mg of the medication in the morning and another 50mg at night. I have still to see any improvement in the hair on my chin, under chin, neck, and even upper lip..

    Based upon some research I have done, there are other drugs, some that aren’t FDA approved, but my insurance covered it? (weird!) have been shown to have a 49% reduction in male hair growth patterns in women. I get numerous ovarian cysts that burst- not fun – therefore my doctor concludes I have polycystic ovarian…

    This really sucks that every morning I have to lather up my chin and neck with shaving cteam, spend over $100 in razors (so I get the closest shave possible), and wear cosmetic foundation on my face and NECK!!
    For anymore on this site.. This is what I found helpful :) GOOD LUCK

    http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/121038-treatment

  2. Kim
    Reply

    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.

  3. KR
    Reply

    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.

  4. D.V. IBANEZ
    Reply

    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.

  5. Loretta
    Reply

    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.

  6. lcf
    Reply

    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.

  7. Dot F.
    Reply

    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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