[Current opinions on the etiology and pathophysiology of hirsutism].
ABSTRACT Hirsutism, defined as the presence of terminal hairs in females in a male-like pattern, affects approximately 7% of women. It is a manifestation of a variety of disorders, the most common of which is polycystic ovary syndrome. In some cases, however, hirsutism may be the first clinical manifestation of a severe, and even life-threatening, underlying disorder such as an ovarian or adrenal tumour, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, or Cushing's syndrome. In 5 to 15% of hirsute patients with so called 'idiopathic hirsutism' there is no evidence of any disease or detectable androgen excess. Apart from the risk associated with the presence of underlying disorder, hirsutism has by itself a negative psychological impact on a quality of life of the patient. The aim of this overview, based mainly on the recent literature, is to describe in details the pathogenesis of hirsutism and various causes leading to this women's health problem.