Pubic hair isn't exactly a glamorous topic, which means it's not often discussed over brunch – or ever at all. However, as much as it may weird you out, your pubic hair does play a role in your health and is totally natural, plus you might not be aware of some
fascinating facts about pubic hair that can help you understand what it's there for in the first place. Maybe you wax it off, shave just your bikini line, or leave it all in tact, but no matter how you choose to groom yourself, you should be aware of everything there is to know about your hair down there.
"Pubic hair offers protection of the female genitalia in several ways," says
Christine Greves, MD, OB/GYN over email. "In addition to being a barrier to bacteria and dirt from entering the vagina, it can help protect against chafing, as it can act as a cushion to protect the genitalia from things that cause friction. Also, it can protect from heat loss. Another reason that women have pubic hair is because it can spread certain chemicals that we excrete, also known as pheromones."
It may not be on the list of your favorite topics, but you might be interested to learn these strange, but 11 interesting facts about pubic hair.
It Protects You From Infection
All that hair is there for a reason. "Pubic hair’s primary function is to protect the genitalia from things like bacteria and viruses," says
women's health nurse practitioner Aimee Chism Holland over email. "It protects skin covering the mons pubis, vulva, and vagina during intercourse from friction that can lead to dryness, irritation, and abrasions."
Less Hair Might Mean More STIs
A recent study from the journal
Sexually Transmitted Infections found that people who practice “extreme grooming” or “high frequency” grooming have a 3.5 to four-fold heightened risk for contracting STIs affecting the skin, including herpes, HPV, and syphilis. Shaving and waxing create little micro abrasions in the skin, making it easier for infections to make their way in.
Many Women Think About It Before Their Gyno Visit (But They Don't Need To)
"A recent survey showed that women may think about their pubic hair before they visit the gynecologist," says Holland. In fact, many women will even shave or wax before an appointment, but most docs say that's not necessary. "That is not something healthcare providers pay attention to or even remember," she says. "I would much rather a woman be thinking about inquiring about STIs and cervical cancer screening."
84 Percent Of Women Have Groomed Their Pubic Hair
If you do
something with your pubic hair, you're not alone. A study published in the journal JAMA Dermatology found that 84 percent of women have opted for some sort of hair removal, with 62 percent choosing to go totally bare at some point in their life.
Grooming Is Most Popular With Younger Women
"Grooming pubic hair seems to be a cultural trend," says Greves. Although the majority of women have done some sort of grooming in their lifetime, American women are much more likely to shave
if they're between the ages of 18-24, according to research from the journal JAMA Dermatology.
Regrowth Can Actually Hurt
That stage between waxing or shaving can be more than just awkward in terms of how your hair looks — it can also be painful. "Stubble in the vulvar region can be particularly uncomfortable for both the woman and her partner, and it can also lead to ingrown hairs that may be painful as well," says
Jonathan Schaffir, MD, OB/GYN over email.
"Just like the hair on one's head, pubic hair can get lice," says Greves. However, grooming your pubic hair can actually help in this instance. "There are decreased rates of pubic hair lice since pubic hair grooming has been increasing," she says.
Shaving Injuries Are On The Rise
"Seeing the area well during shaving is not easy for many people as compared to shaving the legs," says Greves. Not being able to see what you're doing leads to injuries, some even so severe they could land you in the hospital. In fact,
pubic hair grooming injuries jumped five-fold between 2002 and 2010, according to an analysis from the University of California, San Francisco.
The Longest Pubic Hair In History Was 28 inches
Think you're in dire need of a wax? Your pubic hair probably doesn't compare to that of Maoni Vi from Cape Town, South Africa, who has
the record for longest pubic hair, coming in at 28 inches.
Just like you can have hair loss on your head, the same can happen down there. "During menopause, the decrease in a woman's sex hormones causes a thinning of the hair and slowing of growth," says Schaffir. "Pubic hair normally gets sparser with age. Other medical conditions can also cause a loss of pubic hair, including hypothyroidism, syphilis, and certain medications such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy."
Hair Removal Is More Painful Around Your Period
If you're going to shave or wax down there, you might want to wait until after your period is over. Not only is your genital area more sensitive during your period, but
you're more sensitive to pain overall, according to research from the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills.