Years ago, a lovely lady on Team O’a found a ripple of bumps tightly knit across her labia in no discernable pattern. A few hours later, an OB-GYN cavalierly told her, “Oh, that’s just herpes.” As she began to cry from shock, he followed up with, “Don’t worry. Everyone has it.”
“Does shaving aggravate it?” she managed to eek out, a question easier to ask than the bigger ones in her mind like Will someone still have sex with me? (Pro tip: Yes!)
“You shave?” Now it was the doctor who was shocked. “I didn’t realize. Let me look again.”
Twenty long seconds later and a new diagnosis was made: razor burn.
“It’s really bad to remove your pubic hair,” the doctor told her as she dismounted from the metal stirrups. “We have hair for a reason, and I know there’s a stigma against it right now but that’s just a fad from the adult film industry. Like chest waxing and thick ties, it will go out of style again.”
She was still too wrapped up in processing what was and wasn’t happening to consider asking why it was so bad to shave her pubes. As she was telling us this story at O’a HQ, we realized we didn’t know either – and we wanted to find out.
The Doctor Was Right: Hair Removal is a Cultural Fad
For American women, body hair removal hit the scene around the same time as flapper dresses – and pubic hair removal was some of the last hair to be considered a must-go. As bikinis got more teeny and yes, the adult film industry introduced bare-skinned everything, ladies started to follow suit. But as the Palo Alto Medical Foundation puts it, “Although shaving may be becoming the social norm, that does not mean you should do it.”
The Cons of Shaving, Waxing, Threading, and Lasering
87% American women remove their pubic hair – and of that population, 60% have had at least one health complication because of their habit: epidermal abrasion, ingrown hairs, infections and a higher risk of spreading or contracting an STI.
While all that doesn’t sound bad from the keyboard of a non science writer, when you hear how Dr. Emily Gibson phrases it in her piece, the War on Pubic Hair Must End, it’s easy to start thinking differently.
Pubic hair removal naturally irritates and inflames the hair follicles left behind, leaving microscopic open wounds. Rather than suffering a comparison to a bristle brush, frequent hair removal is necessary to stay smooth, causing regular irritation of the shaved or waxed area. When that irritation is combined with the warm moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy culture medium for some of the nastiest of bacterial pathogens, namely Group A Streptococcus, Staphylococcus aureus and its recently mutated cousin methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). There is an increase in staph boils and abscesses, necessitating incisions to drain the infection, resulting in scarring that can be significant. It is not at all unusual to find pustules and other hair-follicle inflammation papules on shaved genitals.
She doesn’t paint a great picture (though admittedly, we’d rather read about it than see it – sounds painful!).
Your Pubic Hair IS Good for Something
Even though we’ve been conditioned to feel self-conscious about our pubic hair, it actually has an important role to play. Much like nose hair, it protects your vulva from unwanted pathogens, and it even provides a fluffy cushion against friction that can cause abrasion and injury.
Makes us think there should be a pubic party of sorts to celebrate what we hope is the return of the hair down under!
How to Deal With the Stigma of Hair Below the Belt
Our society has taught women that hair is bad for a century now. We’re not saying it’s going to be easy to let go of any insecurities we hold about how we look with hair in our nether-regions, but we will say this:
You are you – hair and all. No matter what your body looks like, no matter where your hair grows (or does not), you are still beautiful. If you can approach pubic hair with that thought in mind, you’ve created a space for other people to do the same.
The right people in your life don’t care if you have a piece of rice stuck on your chin, wrinkled clothes, or hair, wherever. They like you for you. And you’d be surprised how liberating it can be to be fully unclothed, and rocking a light bush, laying next to your lover and being exactly who you are.
Take it from our Team O’a member – she’s only trimmed since that fateful day at the doctor.
Are you self conscious about your pubic hair? Do you shear it all off, let it be as it is, or something in between? Does your pubic hair affect if you feel sexy? Let us know!