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How can I get rid of excess body hair while I'm pregnant?

Maybe you'd heard about how thick and lovely the hair on your head would be during pregnancy. But if the new growth on your chin, upper lip, and cheeks is throwing you for a loop, don't worry! It's completely normal and — even better — temporary.

Pregnancy-induced hair growth usually develops during the first trimester and is caused by an increase in sex hormones known as androgens. In addition to new facial hair, some women notice unusual growth (sometimes just a few stray hairs) on their breasts, belly, arms, legs, and back.

To get rid of the hair, you can safely tweeze, wax, and shave, but I wouldn't recommend bleaches or depilatories because they can be absorbed into the skin and we don't know what effect they might have on a developing baby.

There's a prescription drug for reducing excess facial hair called Vaniqa, but that's not recommended during pregnancy, either. (Since no pregnant women have been included in clinical trials for the drug, we just don't know what its effects would be on a developing baby.)

The new moisturizers that claim to reduce hair growth are soy-based, which means they may contain plant-based hormones — so although there are no formal contraindications during pregnancy, I'd still err on the side of caution and avoid them, too.

As for the permanent hair-removal techniques — laser and electrolysis — these procedures work well and are thought to be safe during pregnancy. If excess hair was a frustration for you before pregnancy and you want to banish it forever, these treatments are an effective option. But they can be painful or uncomfortable, and you may feel that you already have enough discomfort to deal with during pregnancy, especially considering that this new growth is almost certainly temporary.

One last option is to be patient: According to the American Academy of Dermatology, all of this unwanted hair will disappear within six months of your baby's birth.

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