Menstrual patterns and self-reported hirsutism as assessed via the modified Ferriman-Gallwey scale: A cross-sectional study
Hirsutism, the presence of excess terminal hair in a male pattern, is a clinical marker of androgen excess in women. We used cross-sectional data from a North American preconception cohort study to evaluate the association between menstrual cycle characteristics and hirsutism.
Women aged 21–45 years were recruited to a North American cohort of pregnancy planners. On the baseline questionnaire, participants self-reported menstrual characteristics, which included menstrual regularity, cycle length, bleed length, and bleed heaviness. Participants provided a self-rating of hirsutism in nine distinct body areas using pictograms representing the modified Ferriman-Gallwey (mFG) score. Using their ratings, we calculated total mFG scores and defined hirsutism as mFG scores ≥8. We used log-binomial regression models to estimate prevalence ratios (PRs) for the association between menstrual characteristics and hirsutism assessed at baseline.
We included 5,542 women in the analytic cohort. Mean mFG score was 4.7, with 21.7 % reporting mFG scores ≥8. Compared with women with regular menstrual cycles, irregular cycles were positively associated with mFG ≥8 (PR 1.73, 95 % CI 1.56–1.91). Bleed lengths of ≥7 days compared with <3 days also showed a positive association with mFG score ≥8 (PR 1.59, 95 % CI 1.16–2.19), as did heavy bleeds (PR 1.42, 95 % CI 1.21–1.67) compared with moderate bleeds. Findings remained consistent when restricted to women without a prior diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome.
In a population-based cohort of North American women, menstrual irregularity, increased cycle and bleeds lengths, and heavier menstrual bleeds were associated with self-reported hirsutism.