We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto this week’s topic: what to do if your partner wants you to remove your pubic hair.
Q: “I just started dating a woman a few months ago, and things are going incredibly well between us. The other day, she casually mentioned that she would really enjoy seeing me bare down there (she waxes, but I never have). She said it in a nice way, and didn’t even specifically ask me to do it, but it was still embarrassing beyond belief in the moment. I’ve never thought about getting rid of my pubic hair, so I’m not sure what to do. I’m not entirely opposed to the idea, but to be honest, It feels kinda anti-feminist to me. Should you change your pubic hair if your partner wants you to? Any tips for making this decision would be greatly appreciated.”
A: Thanks for the question! Not many of us put a ton of thought into our pubic hair, but your question brings up a lot of interesting topics. There are no “right” or “wrong” answers here, but definitely a lot to think about. Here are seven important pubic hair considerations.
1. Remember That It’s Your Body
I wanted to start off by addressing your comment that getting rid of your pubic hair might feel anti-feminist. There’s no denying that pubic hair is a loaded, political issue. Some people feel that removing pubic hair is an act of infantilizing women, or stripping away their sexuality. Others point to the fact that virtually every female porn star has her pubic hair removed. Pubic hair has become yet another part of women’s bodies that gets scrutinized. A lot of women remove their pubic hair because they think it’s “gross,” “unsightly,” or “unacceptable” to keep their pubic hair as is.
A whole book could be written on this topic, but I think you’re looking for practical advice rather than a PhD in gender and sexuality studies! In my humble opinion, which is of course not shared by all feminists, one of the most basic tenets of feminism is that women should be allowed to do whatever we personally want to do with our bodies. That includes doing whatever we personally want to do with our pubic hair. Shaving or waxing your pubic hair isn’t inherently anti-feminist. If you’re curious about going bare, you should try going bare. If you enjoy not having any pubic hair, you should take it all off. If you like your pubic hair as is, you should keep it as is. It really all comes down to what you want. Heck, if you want to vajazzle it, you should vajazzle it.
It’s your body. You get to decide what to do with it. That’s the most important thing I would keep in mind in deciding what to do with yours.
2. Know This Can Be An Acceptable Thing To Compromise On
That being said, different women have different relationships with their pubic hair. If you had written in telling me that you are really attached to your pubic hair, that it makes you feel sexy, or that you see your pubic hair as an act of anti-patriarchal defiance, I’d encourage you to keep it! I’d also encourage you to leave your hair if you felt like you “had” to wax, or if your partner was pressuring you to do it (more on this dynamic below). But it doesn’t sound like you have a strong opinion one way or the other. If you’ve never felt strong ties to your pubic hair, I would say this is a perfectly fine thing to compromise on sometimes. It’s a relatively minor change to make, and it’s not permanent. It’s somewhat akin to wearing a dress that you’re not crazy about, but that your girlfriend thinks looks smoking hot on you.
3. How They Ask Is Important
You mentioned that your partner brought this topic up in a nice way, which is great. I’ve heard from women whose partners made them feel bad for not shaving or waxing. Their partners have said things like, “you’re the only woman I’ve ever been with who didn’t wax,” “what is this, the '70’s?” and even, “I won’t perform oral unless you’re bare.” It should go without saying, but if your partner is in any way demanding or demeaning about your pubic hair, you shouldn’t let them bully you into making a change. (And you should consider dumping their ass to the curb...)
4. Know There Are Pros And Cons
There are pros and cons on both sides of the fence. Having pubic hair prevents your skin from chafing during sex, and has numerous other hygienic benefits when it comes to preventing vaginal infection. Some scientists believe that pubic hair traps pheromones, increasing your partner’s attraction to and desire for you. Some women like having their pubic hairs lightly tugged on too.
But pubic hair — on men and women alike — can also be a bit difficult to manage when trying to perform oral sex. It’s hard to concentrate on the task at hand when you’ve got a hair stuck in your teeth — or worse — at the back of your throat. You don’t have to worry about errant hairs as much when you remove all or some of your pubic hair. Waxed labia skin can be exquisitely soft and fun to play with. But waxing and shaving can open you up to ingrown hairs and skin irritations. It can also be painful and expensive to maintain.
5. Mixing It Up Can Have Benefits
Regardless of your personal preferences, I typically recommend trying some sort of change to your pubic hair routine at least once. If you’ve never waxed before, being bare will help you notice your body in new ways. It can make you much more aware of your genitals throughout the day. It can even help you feel more clitoral sensation on your own and with a partner, since the clitoris can be a bit more exposed.
In my online orgasm course for women, Finishing School, I actually encourage women to try a change in pubic hair maintenance for these very reasons. If you try going bare once, you may also notice changes as your hair starts to grow back in. Maybe you realize that keeping your hair full makes you feel really womanly and sexy, and helps you appreciate your pubic hair in a way you never had before!
6. Consider Getting Your Partner Involved
If you’re worried about the imbalance of your girlfriend asking you to get a wax for her, have your girlfriend get involved with the hair removal process! You mentioned that she waxes, so maybe she can book you an appointment with her usual waxer. Maybe the two of you can even go together. Or, if it makes you feel better, tell her you’ll try it out if she pays for the appointment or splits the cost with you.
7. Remember It’s Not Permanent
Remember: if you want to give going bare a try, it isn’t permanent. Like I said above, it’s a relatively minor change to make. It’s just hair, only you and your partner are going to see it, and it will grow back in a few weeks. There’s really not too much to lose, besides your pubes.