These days the vast majority of women are going for the all bare look down there. In 2016, 84 percent of women in the US said they shaved their pubic hair at least once if not routinely, according to a study published in JAMA Dermatology.
However, some experts say this can come with some risks – and even deprives women of some unexpected benefits. Speaking with Daily Mail Online, two gynecologists explain exactly how pubic hair protects the skin, staves off infections and can even attract partners by trapping pheromones.
1. Pubic hair keeps genitals warm
Gynecologist Dr Alyssa Dweck told Daily Mail Online that, among other things, pubic hair helps control temperature.
‘It acts like the hair on many other areas on our body,’ said Dr Dweck, who practices at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York. ‘It protects skin from further heat loss.’
This protective benefit may also enhance sex. According to Dr Lauren Streicher, medical director of Northwestern Medicine Center for Sexual Medicine and Menopause, the evolutionary advantage of having warm genitals were that people were more likely to take their clothes off.
Retaining heat also makes it more likely for men to maintain an erection.
‘Before central heating, pubic hair was what kept the genitals warm,’ she explained. ‘If you take a guy and put him in the refrigerator, he’s going to lose his erection,’ she explained. This is because cold temperatures cause the blood vessels to constrict, which limits blood flow to the penis.
2. It provides ‘cushioning’ during exercise and prevents trauma
Pubic hair is also a protective barrier for the skin, especially during intercourse. Rubbing skin together could become uncomfortable and even painful, but the genital hair can act as a buffer.
‘The natural oil in hair also provides skin lubrication and decreases friction during intercourse,’ Dr Streicher said. ‘I’ve seen some pretty nasty “rug burn” from rubbing while bare.’
It can also act as a cushion during certain exercises and activities such as biking.
3. It may reduce the risk of catching certain sexually transmitted diseases
Some experts say pubic hair can protect the genitals from certain infections. In fact, science backs this up.
A 2016 study published in the BMJ found people who regularly groomed their pubic hair were 75 percent more likely to contract a sexually transmitted infection. Researchers said this may be due to skin tears that occur while removing hair that allows transmission of bacteria or viruses like HPV.
Another study published that same year in JAMA Dermatology found shaving and waxing were actually associated with higher rates of STIs. However, Dr Streicher isn’t sure whether pubic hair can protect against sexually transmitted diseases and other bacteria.
4. Pubic hair ATTRACTS sexual partners by trapping pheromones
According to Dr Dweck, another evolutionary advantage of pubic hair is that it can trap a person’s pheromones, a hormonal substance that can affect the behavior of others.
‘This can help you attract mates,’ she said.
She said pubic hair get a hold of these pheromones from a person’s perspiration. Dr Streicher added that the wiry hair acts as a ‘bullseye’ and helps encourage sexual intercourse.
‘Evolutionarily, the other function of pubic hair was to draw attention to the genitals,’ she said.
5. Grooming the pubic area can lead to injury
Dr Streicher said pubic hair removal is a trend that is a cosmetic and personal choice and rarely has anything to do with health.
‘There are no health benefits associated with removing pubic hair, but there may be some risks,’ she said.
The method in which people remove hair from the genitalia regions – shaving, waxing or laser – can cause injuries, burns and rashes, Dr Streicher explained. In fact, a 2017 study conducted by the American Medical Association found 25 percent of people have injured themselves while grooming their genital area, with laceration, or tearing soft body tissue, being the most common injury. Additionally, more than a third of them said they had sustained five or more injuries while shaving or waxing their genital areas.
PUBIC HAIR GROOMING ‘DO’S AND ‘DON’T’S
Shave your pubic hair in one direction, as shaving in different directions can cause you to have an ingrown hair
See a physician or dermatologist immediately if you think you have an infection
Never let someone who has not had experience waxing pubic hair groom you
Do not use a razor that is old or dirty, as it increases your risk of infection