Pubes: The Hairy Truth

By: Melanie, Education Intern

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You may have heard the phrase “manscaping” recently (and no, I’m not talking about the cute neighbor boy mowing his lawn). “Manscaping” refers to a male-bodied person trimming or grooming his pubic hair. While the trimming trend is relatively recent for men, the idea of a woman trimming or removing her pubic hair has been openly discussed for much longer, and it’s often reflected in porn. Either way, choosing to alter your pubic hair can be a big – and sometimes tricky – choice.

Pubic hair naturally starts growing during puberty, which is usually between the ages of 8 and 16 and often happens a little earlier for girls. It may be thick and curly or thin and straight. It may grow around a person’s genitals and groin (some pubic hair on the labia, the shaft of the penis, or the upper part of a person’s inner thighs is also normal) or it may only cover a small area above the genitals. Your pubic hair may or may not even match the color and texture of the hair that grows on your head and the rest of your body!

The idea of grooming your pubic hair to look a certain way has been around since at least the 1950s. In the 1970s, many people let their pubic hair grow untamed – people were proud of their bushes! While many people still find untamed pubes empowering, beautiful, and sexy, options for pubic hair care are more diverse than ever now. The trends more recently include an array of exciting things to do with your pubic hair, like waxing, shaving, trimming, shaping, going ‘au naturale,’ or even dying it (seriously).

You may be wondering why you have pubes at all. If some people remove them all the time, what’s the point? Researchers have lots of theories about why humans have hair around their genitals, many of which are related to evolution. One reason is that secretions from glands around the genitals mix with healthy bacteria on the skin to produce pheromones. Pheromone scents are unique for each and every person. Another person’s scent may or may not be noticeable to you, but it taps into your unconscious mind to influence your sexual attraction to that person. Plus, abrasions or cuts resulting from removing pubic hair can actually increase risk for STDs like HPV and Herpes that are spread by skin-to-skin contact. What an awesome built-in protection, right?

Pro Tips (before we get into the hairy details):

  • Anytime you remove hair completely, the process of growing it back in can be itchy and uncomfortable. This may also cause you to have some razor burn (red bumps), ingrown hairs, or folliculitis, all of which can be somewhat painful. If it is too painful (i.e. long lasting, you find an abnormal rash, etc.) see a medical practitioner.
  • Remember that any small cuts or abrasions on the skin around the genitals (even the tiny ones that you can’t see) can increase your risk for STD transmission if you’re sexually active. To minimize or prevent STD transmission, take precautions like using a condom or keeping boxers on during penile-vaginal sex, or any genital to genital contact.
  • Hair grows back. If you shave or wax once and don’t like it, you can choose not to do it again!

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Before you choose what you do with your pubes, be sure to consider your own health and safety. Make sure you know the facts about each of your options, and keep in mind that some of them require upkeep and might be pricey!

  1. Shaving can be tricky around the genitals, where there are tons of blood vessels and nerve endings that help you feel good and function well. Also, shaving in a slippery shower or without a mirror may end in disaster! Make sure that if you choose to shave, you use a clean, new razor every time.
  2. Waxing can be painful and can cause ingrown hairs, but the smoothness lasts for much longer than shaving. Waxing should not be a “DIY” (do-it-yourself) project! If you choose to do this, leave it to the professionals.
  3. Trimming can be a good middle-of-the-road choice if you’re unsure. This option allows you to keep some of your pubic hair, but trim off the excess. This may be a good choice if your pubic hair grows in such a way that it sometimes gets caught in your underwear lining or the zipper of your pants.
  4. All-natural pubic hair is also a perfectly normal decision. This choice doesn’t require any maintenance (besides regular washing in the shower, of course), and some people say that they even enjoy the sensation of hair on their genitals during sexual activity.

It’s entirely up to YOU! You can always experiment until you find the ‘do for you. Make sure that whatever choice you make for your own pubic hair is something you’re comfortable with. It seems like your partners will care a lot about what you do with your pubic hair, but trust me – they won’t. Someone who cares about you shouldn’t make you feel like your pubic hair is ‘gross’ or ‘dirty.’ It isn’t!

There are all kinds of choices for caring for your pubic hair, including letting them grow! The long and short of it is this: always treat your body with care, kindness, and respect – even those prickly pubes.

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