When it comes to hair removal in your bikini area, cultural trends as of late have promoted a do-it-yourself tactic that offers women everywhere a way to save time and money––and an alternative to the dreaded visit to the Brazilian waxing salon. But, just how safe and beneficial is it to shave down there with a razor? We’ve consulted Dr. Lauren F. Streicher, MD, a Clinical Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever and The Essential Guide to Hysterectomy: Advice from a Gynecologist on Your Choice Before, During, and After Surgery to find out the truth. Read below for five reasons you should not shave your pubic hair:
1. The decision to remove (or not remove) the hair in your bikini area is personal
In this generation, it might seem like collegiettes everywhere are supporters of a “clean” bikini area, opting for a look that is hair-free. However, statistics show that this is not the case.
A report published by the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology shed some light on pubic hair removal. According to the study, 40.9 percent of women who stopped using a razor to shave this region attributed it to disliking the side effects, such as stubble, bumps, rashes, or ingrown hairs. Other popular reasons women stopped shaving were feeling like it was too much of a hassle, a lack of sexual activity, liking the look of pubic hair, and their partners wanted them to stop.
Margeaux Biché, a sophomore at Barnard College, is a big advocate for shaving down there less. “I used to shave my bikini area probably once every week or every other week, and now I probably do so once every couple of months (unless I have some sort of event that might dictate shaving,” she says. “I have found that, as a result, my pubic hair grows WAY more slowly and I think it has gotten slightly thinner as well!” Margeaux is not alone.
For Julie*, another college student, shaving down there is just not worth it. "I've just found that it is always extremely irritating to the skin ––it gets very itchy as it grows back and ingrown hairs in my pubic region are scary because they can be confused with warts, pimples, or a staph infection," she says. "Hair is natural and serves a purpose. Of course, it is important to manage your pubic hair for sanitary reasons, but it was given to us as a shield." If hair removal down there is just not for you ––rest assured knowing you are not alone!
2. There are some minor health complications involved
Pubic hair removal is a modern-day trend, but is it really safe? Not necessarily. According to the study, it may result in unfavorable health consequences including skin irritation, vulvar and vaginal irritation or infection, and even possibly the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Other minor health risks that come with shaving your bikini region may include epidermal abrasions (shallow wounds to the skin), ingrown hairs, hair follicule imflamation, vulva inflamation, or rashes.
Dr. Streicher notes that most health complications are nothing major. "There is always a possibility of nicking, as it is a lot harder to see what you are doing," she says. "From an infection point of view, there is not a huge issue ––there have been a few studies done, but the numbers have been small." Even if you get your bikini area waxed, you still risk burns to the skin simply because the skin down there is delicate.
It varies from individual to individual, but sometimes, irritation is just inevitable. "There are some people who get bumps no matter what they do," Dr. Streicher says.
3. Pubic hair helps your body in multiple ways
While in the grand scheme of things, humans have much less body hair than other animals, the hair we do have is not accidental ––and this goes for pubic hair, as well! According to Dr. Streicher, pubic hair exists to serve many purposes. "Biologically, there is a reason we have pubic hair," she says. "From a medical point of view, it decreases friction and lubrication."
Additionally, hair down there acts as a cushion during intercourse and help men maintain an erection. "When you have two bodies that are rubbing together, pubic hair stops friction and decreases potential discomfort," she says. "It keeps the gentials warm ––and for a guy trying to maintain an erection, you have to have warm genitals. It is also a way to find your way to the genitals. If you have a big patch of pubic hair, it says, 'Hey, here is where you go!'" Who knew pubic hair was offered our bodies so many benefits?
Related: How to Shave ‘Down There’
4. Hair in the bikini region triggers arousal
As you have probably noticed on your own body, pubic hair tends to be a completely different texture than, say, the hair on your head. Most medical experts agree that this is because of pheromones, or chemicals that are secreted in our sweat and other bodily fluids, and influence the behavior of the opposite sex.
Wait, what? You read that right! Pheromones are believed to trigger sexual interest and excitement. So, hair in the bikini region can actually act as a pheromone-enhanced product that increases your natural appeal to the opposite sex.
While pheromones may influence arousal to some extent, Dr. Streicher believes that the desired look of a vagina is ultimately a personal preference. "I really think what is far more important is what a person finds most erotic," she says. "Some men prefer no pubic hair, but others think that that is just creepy. Appearance has a much bigger impact on arousal than pheromones." Either way, it is foolish to believe that having hair in the bikini region will turn a sexual partner away. In fact, it may do the opposite!
5. There are better (& safer) alternatives
In the age of bare bikini regions, is there a method that is “safest” when it comes to hair removal? As you can probably assume, professional waxing and electrolysis (removing individual hairs from the body using chemical or heat energy) result in the least amount of irritation, allergies or other medical complications.
Margeaux is a supporter of professional removal. “As for waxing, I’ve only ever done that a few times [but] when I did it professionally, it worked super well and hair growth really slowed down,” Margeaux says. “When I did it myself, though, it was a complete failure ––I literally removed zero hair.” Hair removal is not as simple as it looks, ladies!
Amber*, a student at Florida Atlantic University, prefers Brazilian waxes. "I started getting them about two years ago and they changed my life," she says. "Of course, this isn't scientific, but I feel like the experience and results just feel cleaner than shaving. Plus, yes, I have experienced pretty painful cuts and irritation while shaving." However, Amber adds that the cost of waxing is not so great.
No matter the which method you choose, Dr. Streicher emphasizes that professional removal is both expensive and painful ––and that some red bumps will commonly show up no matter what. "I think that from a purely medical point of view, carefully clipping [your pubic hair] is always going to be better," she says. "But, there is nothing wrong with shaving as long as you are comfortable. I don't have a problem with waxing, I just think it takes a rare person to be able to self-wax." We could not agree more.
So, what is Dr. Streicher's final advice for the removal of hair down there? "Like anything else, use common sense," she says. "It's not like there is a huge scientific literature out there about the removal of pubic hair. Keep in mind that genital hairstyles tend to come and go, and what is in style today might not be in style tomorrow."
Like any other decision you have to make in life, the decision to shave down there is always yours and yours only. Make sure you are choosing what makes you look––and more importantly, feel––most comfortable!