Excessive hair growth, also called hirsutism, is very common in pregnant women. Many pregnant women notice it on their stomach or other areas where they usually don’t have much hair. While it might be a cosmetic annoyance, the extra hair is usually harmless and will likely go away after you give birth.

Keep reading to learn more about what causes it, and signs that may mean it’s something more serious.

When you’re pregnant, your body goes through sudden, dramatic hormonal fluctuations. This includes a rapid increase in estrogen, which is largely responsible for belly hair during pregnancy. You might notice that these new hairs are thicker and darker than the hair on your head.

In addition to your stomach, these hairs can also pop up on your:

  • arms
  • chest
  • face
  • glutes
  • lower back
  • neck
  • shoulders
  • upper back

Keep in mind that other conditions can also cause excessive hair in women — both pregnant and not.

Some people believe that a hairy belly during pregnancy means you’re having a boy. However, there’s no research to back up this claim. A hairy belly during pregnancy simply means your hormones are working hard to help your body grow a healthy baby.

If you’re curious about your baby’s gender, an ultrasound around the halfway point in your pregnancy is your best bet.

Belly hair that develops during pregnancy usually goes away after you give birth. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates that extra hair from pregnancy usually fades away within six months of delivery. You might also notice hair loss in other body parts during this time.

If it doesn’t go away, or seems to be spreading or getting thicker, follow up with your doctor. They may want to do a blood test to make sure the extra hair isn’t due to an underlying condition, such as:

While excess hair during pregnancy usually goes away after you have your baby, some women want to remove it during pregnancy for cosmetic reasons. At-home hair removal methods, such as shaving, plucking, or waxing, are usually safe for pregnant women. Learn more about waxing during pregnancy.

Keep in mind that your stomach skin may be more delicate and sensitive than usual, so make sure to follow up with a moisturizing lotion to prevent irritation.

Professional hair removal methods haven’t been widely researched for safety during pregnancy. These include:

  • bleaching
  • electrolysis
  • laser hair removal
  • prescription hair removal creams

However, if excessive hair growth doesn’t resolve after pregnancy, you may want to talk to your healthcare provider about the above cosmetic options to get rid of unwanted hairs.

Excessive hair during pregnancy is usually nothing to worry about. However, in rare cases it can be a sign of hyperandrogenism, a condition that causes overproduction of androgens. Androgens refer to male sex hormones, such as testosterone.

Several things can cause hyperandrogenism, including polycystic ovary syndrome and medications used to treat epilepsy.

In addition to belly hair, hyperandrogenism can also cause:

  • high blood pressure
  • acne
  • irregular periods (before pregnancy)
  • clitoral enlargement
  • deeper voice
  • rapid weight gain
  • larger muscle mass

While this condition is rare, it can affect your unborn child. Baby girls, for example, have a risk of developing male-like characteristics from excessive androgens in their mother’s blood. Tell your doctor if you have any symptoms of hyperandrogenism. They can test your hormone levels and prescribe medication if needed.

In most cases, developing hair on your stomach while pregnant is normal, even if it seems longer or thicker than the rest your body hair. For most women, this extra hair starts to fade within six months of giving birth. However, if you have any symptoms of hyperandrogenism, contact your healthcare provider. While this is a rare complication, it often requires medication.