In praise of pubes

8th February 2018

FPA’s clinical lead Karin O’Sullivan shares her insight on the benefits of pubic hair...

Last year’s Sexual Health Week topic was pornography. This raised some interesting discussions in the FPA office on pubic hair – or lack of it. The trend of porn actors removing all their pubic hair (often a practical concern, as filmmakers want views of the action to be unrestricted and fuzz free) is thought to have contributed to new grooming practices among people of all genders.

So does pubic hair have a function? Is it necessary to our health and wellbeing? Can pubes be aesthetically pleasing – trimmed, heart-shaped, dyed, tattooed, vajazzled? 

Is this a personal issue – do you either love it or hate it? At the end of the day, it comes down to personal choice. But there are some practical reasons we can sing the praises of pubic hair!

Extra pleasure

Pubic hair provides a cushioning effect during sex, allowing pubes to ‘slide together’ which stimulates nerve endings of the hair follicles to increase sexual pleasure – how many people can honestly say they prefer the ‘velcro effect’ of stubble?

Scents appeal

Pubic hair traps pheromones – the hormonal sexual signals that we send to potential mates. These are produced, and are strongest in, our hairy areas, particularly the genitals (and chest hair – back, sack and crack waxing is a whole other blog!). By removing your pubic hair, you could be diluting the alluring scent of your sexual attractants.

To trim or not to trim – is that the question? 

Recent research looking at pubic hair habits found that people who frequently removed all their pubic hair were more likely to report having a sexually transmitted infection (STI). But the reason for this isn’t known – it doesn’t necessarily mean that removing your hair puts you at more risk of an STI, it could be that people who are more at risk of an STI are more likely to shave. Pubic hair or not, you can help protect yourself from STIs by using condoms.

A buffer for little nuisances

For those with a vagina, there are some theories that pubic hair stops germs and viruses from entering the vagina in the way that nose hairs do for our nasal passage.  One positive trend that’s been noted, is that incidences of pubic lice (also known as crabs) have decreased as the trend towards removing or trimming pubic hair has increased. On the other hand, if you’re thinking of removing your hair for hygiene reasons, there’s no evidence that going hair free has any other health or hygiene benefits.

Growing pains

One thing to remember about losing the pubes, is that they’re destined to return and can be a little stubbly or scratchy when they do. Although this isn’t everyone’s experience, some people have found they’re more likely to get in-grown hairs after shaving. There are lots of ways to remove pubic hair, including waxing, exfoliating, tweezing and a simple trim - here’s a good guide to some of the pros and cons of different methods. Ultimately, the decision to shave or not shave is yours alone. What feels good to one person can be sandpaper to another. 

Research by Cosmopolitan found that more men (40%) than women (23%) have asked their partner to change their pubic hair, however, the vast majority of both men (70%) and women (80%) would not reconsider dating someone because of their approach to grooming. If a partner asks you to groom your pubes in a way you’re not comfortable with, it’s completely right to say no. If they prioritise your body hair over your awesome personal qualities, it might not be a relationship you want to invest your time and energy into.

Whatever you choose to do with your body hair – enjoy it. You can find more information about sexual wellbeing and sexual health on the Sexwise website.

Image
Neatly trimmed bush