The Unfiltered TRUTH About Your Pubic Hair

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The Unfiltered TRUTH About Your Vagina's Pubic Hair

What it’s even REALLY down there — and whether it’s OK to shave it off.

By Zahra Barnes

When you think about it, pubic hair is one of those things that unites all of humanity. No matter who someone is or where they come from, chances are they have pubic hair after they reach a certain age. Or at least that they did until they jumped on the hair-removal bandwagon. Maybe they’ve even given oiling their pubic hair a go since apparently now that’s a thing.

But why does pubic hair exist in the first place? Below, the results of another vagina-focused investigation

Here are all the potential reasons you have pubic hair.

Pubic hair may bear pheromones, or chemicals your body produces that send subconscious messages to other human animals, including potential mates. “One theory is that you produce pheromones which your pubic hair then traps. It does make sense that the smell from pubic hair can sexually entice your partner,” Sherry Ross, M.D., an ob/gyn at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells SELF.

Many scientists think apocrine sweat glands, which are plentiful in areas that have lots of hair follicles—such as the pubic region—could create pheromones, and interestingly, they “do not begin to function until puberty when sex hormones have an impact on their activity,” according to a January 2012 article in Journal of Advanced Research. That dovetails nicely with another theory about pubic-hair purpose: that it signals to possible mates that you’ve gone through puberty and may be able to produce offspring. “For primitive purposes, perhaps pubic hair was a gender-specific way to identify women [of a reproductive age]” says Ross. 

But science is divided when it comes to pheromones, and there’s debate over what they really are or do, and no conclusive evidence in humans that they even exist.

That uncertainty, however, has no effect on the third prevalent pubic proposal, which is that pubic hair helps keep your most private bits safe. “It [may act] as gatekeeper for preventing dirt from entering the vagina,” says Ross. She adds that it might also serve as a cushion of sorts to protect against friction from sex or other forms of exercise, or even a covering to keep those parts warm (like much of the rest of our body hair). 

There are some good reasons for not shaving, waxing, or otherwise removing your pubic hair. 

So, pubic hair might be there to theoretically keep you safe. And getting rid of it? Well that comes with some dangers. A December 2012 article in Urology estimates that from 2002 to 2010, there were around 11,700 incidents of “grooming-related injuries” in the genital region, with a confirmed 335 people actually visiting the emergency room. Razors were involved in 83 percent of those injuries! 

Still, there are a lot of people taking the risk. A full 95 percent of the 1,110 people surveyed for a January 2015 article in The Journal of Sex Medicine had removed their pubic hair at least once in the previous four weeks.

Listen, I’m not about to tell you what to do with your body. But there are a few reasons for removing pubic hair that don’t have much of a leg to stand on, so let’s address those before you get rid of your magic carpet. 

“For many [of my patients], having less pubic hair signifies a tidy, cleaner vagina,” says Ross. Indeed, the aforementioned article in The Journal of Sex Medicine notes that “women are likely to report stronger associations with feelings of cleanliness, comfort, sex appeal, social norms of their peer group, and affordability as reasons for their chosen pubic hair style.” But having pubic hair doesn’t automatically equal a “dirty” vagina

“Since there’s more hair, [the pubic area] could generate more heat, but if you wash with soap and water, there shouldn’t be any difference,” says Ross. (Just remember not to put any of that soap inside your actual vagina, because that could quite easily irritate its delicate tissue.)

It’s fine if you personally feel more sanitary when you remove your pubic hair, but don’t start feeling like you’re a dirty person just because you skip a few days of shaving. 

Now, about the “sex appeal” and “social norms of their peer group” reasons. Sixty percent of men in that study in The Journal of Sex Medicine were more into “hair-free” sexual partners. Everyone has their preferences, but trying to change someone else should never come into it. Unfortunately, it does.

“Sometimes there’s pressure from partners [for women] to have their pubic hair either trimmed or removed completely,” says Ross. “Although, women are now turning it around and asking their male partners to get man-scaped. At least it’s going the other way, too!”

In all seriousness, no one should pressure anyone else into doing things with their pubic hair just because they like it more. “Would you mind trimming a little so I can have more access to your clitoris and make you orgasm multiple times?” is way different from “Ew, you have hair down there, gross.” 

And there’s really only one good reason for shaving, waxing, etc.

That one good reason is if you want to do it, for yourself. If you’re into removing your pubic hair because it makes you feel sexy, go for it. “A lot of women just like how it feels and find something aesthetically pleasing about it,” says Ross.

Whatever makes you feel good is great, as long as it’s something you actually want to do. So go ahead and book that wax or reach for the razor—but avoid unnecessary pain or freak-outs, try these tips for a safer shave.  



This article was originally published at Reprinted with permission from the author.


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