Female Grooming – To Shave or Not to Shave
“Big Bush” or “Bare Down There” … Female pubic hair grooming is all the rage right now. What is the purpose of pubic hair anyway? Some speculate that pubic hair is an evolutionary adaptation involved in mating; pheromones are trapped by the hair and responsible for one’s individual “sexual scent” if you will, to attract a mate. Others suggest pubic hair is present simply for warmth and temperature control.
So, who grooms and why? Pubic hair grooming is an increasingly prevalent trend. One study reported in JAMA Dermatology (1) showed 84% of 3300 survey respondents admitted to pubic hair grooming while 16% denied this practice. Younger women were more likely to groom than older women, and women who groom were more likely to be white. Surprisingly, women who groom also had twice the number of sexual partners as those who didn’t partake. In fact, those who groomed regularly had higher scores on sexual function scales, which could imply better sexual satisfaction for these women. Finally, this study also suggested that women were more likely to groom based on their partner’s preference and some groom before visiting their gynecologist. Not only women are grooming their private area but recently we have seen an increasing trend for manscaping. It’s not uncommon for your male counterpart to also groom down under as well. What is good for the goose may also be good for the gander.
It is important to note that pubic hair grooming practices can pose some potential risk, most notable with shaving. Infection, razor burn, folliculitis or even vulvar abscess can result from careless practices. Obese women are particularly prone to injury, since visualization might be limited. On a brighter note, benefits include simpler hygiene, better perceived cosmesis and self-esteem, and lower chance of contracting pubic lice.
Either way, many women have taken matters into their own hands when it comes to personal grooming. Whether you’re into clipping, shaving, waxing, applying depilatory creams, undergoing laser or electrolysis, or just letting it all hang out… here is the low down on all things “pubic landscaping”.
Shaving is easy, inexpensive and portable and thus the most common way to keep trim down there. Many with sensitive skin suffer razor burn, nicks, ingrown hairs or folliculitis (infected hair follicles) as a result. Using a moisturizing soap or wash or dedicated shaving cream while shaving to combat friction will help. Shave in the direction of the hair, as opposed to what most women do when shaving their legs against the grain. Consider an after shaving thin coat of bacitracin ointment or hydrocortisone cream for 24 hours. Don’t share razors and change to a fresh blade frequently.
Clipping hair is typical for trimming and grooming longer hairs but skin injury is not uncommon since access and visualization might be limited.
Waxing can be painful, but it does the trick and results last longer than shaving. Insure you go to a reputable salon or DIY if you dare. A helpful hint is to avoid waxing just before or on your period since your pain threshold will be lower.
Depilatory creams and sprays are easy and accessible but can be filled with irritating chemicals! Those with sensitive skin so try it on a small test spot before covering the entire vulva and avoid use on broken skin.
Laser hair removal is expensive, requires multiple treatments and best for those with dark hair and light skin. It is long lasting however and usually well tolerated. Improper laser treatments can cause burns.
“Big Bush” or “Bare Down There” … you decide.
Dr. Michael Krychman
Alyssa Dweck, MS MD FACOG
(1) Rowen TS, et al. Pubic Hair Grooming Prevalence and Motivation Among Women in the United States. JAMA Dermatol. 2016;152(10):1106-1113. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.2154