Grooming your pubic hair today seems to be just as popular as cutting the hair on your head. Whether you’ve trimmed it, waxed it, sugared it, or shaved it, numerous people feel the need to remove or decrease the hair in between their legs, particularly women.
The media and society encourage women to remove practically all of their hair and many of us succumb to this pressure, but how does that affect our health? A recent study published in the British Medical Journal’s publication on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) explored the correlation between pubic hair and STIs.
Trimming Your Pubes May Increase Your Risk of STIs
A recent study in the U.S. found a positive correlation between STIs and pubic hair grooming. Researchers surveyed 7,580 people between the ages of 18 and 65 years old, 56% of whom were men and 44% women. The survey determined participants’ sexual history, previous STIs, and pubic hair maintenance.
74% of those surveyed — 66% of men and 84% of women — stated they groomed their pubes. This isn’t necessarily surprising, as getting Brazilians and shaving has become a social norm, especially for women. The participants’ tool of choice was either the electric razor, which 42% of men used, the average razor, which 61% of women chose, or scissors, which approximately 25% of each group preferred.
The researchers then grouped the individuals who groomed their pubes into two categories: “extreme groomers,” or those who removed all of their pubic hair more than 11 times per year, and “high-frequency groomers,” those who trimmed it on a daily or weekly basis. Of the people surveyed, 17% were considered extreme groomers and 22% high-frequency groomers.
13% of the participants stated they have had herpes, human papilloma virus (HPV), syphilis, molluscum, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, HIV, or pubic lice. Regardless of how often they removed their pubic hair, the results showed that groomers had an 80% greater risk of contracting an STI after taking their age and total amount of sexual partners into consideration.
4 times as likely to contract an STI
In addition, the extreme and high-frequency groomers were considered four times more likely to contract an STI than non-groomers. These groomers were found to be more susceptible to STIs contracted through skin-to-skin contact, including herpes and HPV. The researchers also found that those who didn’t groom their pubic hair were more likely to have a lice infestation down there.
So, for those of you who groom for cleanliness reasons, there may be some scientific basis to that!
Interestingly enough, extreme groomers were found to have had sex with significantly more partners than any other group surveyed. This begs the question: Is there a correlation between pubic hair removal and increased number of sexual partners?
It’s important to note that groomers could easily nick themselves while doing so, which may be a contributing factor for contracting STIs in the first place, since having any sort of open wound makes you more susceptible to bacteria and viruses.
When Did We Start Hating Pubic Hair?
Contrary to popular belief, pubic hair removal gained popularity well before this century. In ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Indian art, many females had little to no hair between their legs. The same trend can be found in Renaissance Italian art as well, as many females were portrayed with no pubic hair (source).
It’s unclear whether or not the artists actually painted their realities; however, even if they didn’t paint exactly what they were seeing, the desire to see a woman without pubic hair was still apparent.
The number of females who removed their pubic hair significantly increased with the start of the new millennium. From the 1970s until 2000, most explicit magazines such as Playboy featured women with pubic hair. However, since 2000, most pornography and explicit magazines have depicted the women with absolutely none.
An Indiana University study found that pubic hair removal is largely based on age. Their findings suggest that the younger the woman, the more likely she is to completely remove her pubes. For example, 21% of women aged 18-24 removed everything “down there,” whereas only 2% of women over 50 did so.
There are numerous reasons for this correlation. Hair removal could simply be a trend amongst millennials, or perhaps the older the woman, the more comfortable she is in her own body. However, the majority of the participants in this study stated that their decision was just that, their decision. Their amount of pubic hair was not contingent on their partner’s or society’s opinions, but rather their own.
Learn to Love Your Pubes or Lose ‘Em — Who Cares!
The first time I was peer pressured into ditching my pubes was at a very young age. I falsely presumed that men would only be attracted to me if my entire body was smooth and hairless, so I spent years of my life falling into the “high-frequency groomer” category as discussed above. This was a direct result of the propaganda, media, and societal pressures I (along with billions of other women) was subject to.
The media tries to convince you that beauty is only skin deep and that in order to be beautiful, a woman must have skin as bald as a naked mole rat. There are also cultural expectations regarding hair removal; for example, many European women don’t shave or wax.
Whether you choose to remove your hair or keep it there, make your decision for you. Yes, the universe blessed you with hair there for a reason, but that doesn’t make it wrong to remove it!