Every woman has their own preference for how they like to keep their pubic hair, but for many people who choose to remove their hair, shaving is the easiest and cheapest — thus preferred — method. However, there are certain times you should never shave down there, as doing so can cause some health issues and problems that at the very least could leave you uncomfortable, but could also lead to some serious infections. You might not think twice about when you should or should not pull out the razor, but it's important to be aware of the times you're better off getting a wax or just going au naturale.
"It's important to keep in mind that pubic hair does serve a function down there: It acts as a natural barrier to both friction and and infections," says RealSelf contributor and dermatologist Dr. Sejal Shah over email. "The skin in the genital area is much more delicate compared to other areas that you may be shaving. Because shaving can create micro injury to the skin, it increases the risk if infections in this area, including viral infections like herpes, HPV and molluscum, and other sexually transmitted diseases."
To make sure you're protecting your vaginal health the best way you can, here are the seven times you should never be shaving down there.
1If You Have An Infection
If you have an infection, whether it be a yeast infection, bacterial vaginitis, or something else, you want to avoid shaving. Grooming your pubic hair while you have an infection can actually end up spreading it and making it worse, according to Shah.
2Right Before Sex
"I generally recommend avoiding shaving within the 48 hours before you are planning on having 'a roll in the hay' — which I realize may not always be planned," says Shah. "Remember, pubic hair acts as a barrier, and all that friction too soon after shaving may overly irritate the skin and increase your risk of ingrown hairs." Also, without the protective barrier, you are making yourself more susceptible for infections, including STDs, according a study from the journal JAMA Dermatology.
3If You Have Lots Of In-Grown Hairs
If you have a lot of ingrown hairs due to shaving, it's time to take a break. Shaving aggravates the inflamed skin even more, according to Healthline. "They can potentially become inflamed and infected and possibly even leave scarring," says Shah.
4On Your Period
Your skin is more sensitive during your period, which means you may want to hold off on your bikini grooming. "If you are not a tampon-wearer and prefer to wear pads during your period, you may not want to shave on that first day of your flow," says dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse MD, FAAD over email. "Newly shaved skin is prone to irritation, and sitting in a pad for 5-7 days can be a little too much friction for your already sensitive skin to handle. Wait a few days, until the flow is lighter or until you are done."
5Before Going To The Sauna
Headed to the gym or sauna? Hold off on shaving just yet. "Shaving should be avoided before going to the gym or sauna, as the micro-tears that shaving cause are vectors for bacteria," says Hibba Kapil, founder of Hibba Beauty, over email.
6Before Going To Workout
"Consider waiting to shave until after your spin class or 20 mile bike ride," says Shainhouse. "Freshly shaved skin is exfoliated and sensitive and can become easily chafed and irritated when rubbing on a bike seat in sweaty bottoms." Your skin can be extra-sensitive to bacteria and moisture from your workout clothes as well.
7If You Have Untreated Genital Warts
"If you have genital warts that are visible on the outside of the vulva and pubic area, don’t shave until you have been treated by your dermatologist," says Shainhouse. "Warts are caused by a virus (HPV) that lives in the skin. Shaving can create tiny micro-cuts in the skin. Shaving through infected areas can spread the wart virus into these tiny cuts, and you can develop more warts."