Health

Removing Your Pubic Hair Is Unhygienic

If you're like most American women, this bikini waxing scene is probably all too familiar.

Whether it's through waxing, shaving, or some other means, a majority of American women get rid of their pubic hair one way or another. A whopping 62 percent of women in the United States completely remove their pubic hair, while 84 percent report doing some type of pubic grooming, according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Dermatology.

The study reports that the overwhelming majority of women groomed their pubic hair for "hygienic purposes."

The medical researchers told The New York Times that they were baffled and troubled by the common perception of pubic hair as "dirty and unclean."

As The Times reports, "[p]ubic hair functions as a protective cushion for sensitive skin, and has its own hygienic purpose, trapping bacteria and preventing it from entering the vaginal opening."

Emily Gibson, a practicing physician and author, wrote about the dangers of shaving your pubic hair in a blog post for KevinMD.com (republished by The Guardian):

"Pubic hair removal naturally irritates and inflames the hair follicles left behind, leaving microscopic open wounds ... 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)."

Gynecologists say that even young teen girls are taking up pubic grooming, citing the influence of "locker room jeers, social media chatter, and even internet pornography, where female genitalia is often displayed as hairless and almost prepubescent," according to The Times.

This corroborates the study's finding that the second-most common reason women groomed was because they believe it makes their genitals more attractive.

The report found that women who were more likely to engage in the practice of pubic hair removal were younger (ages 18 to 34), white, and college-educated to some degree. The researchers also discovered that women were far more likely to groom if their partners also did and if their partner expressed a preference for it. Factors that didn't carry any weight were income and marital status.

[h/t The New York Times]