Body hair removal is a common practice, especially for women. Most people shave with the cosmetic aesthetic in mind, as general upkeep or in preparation for a beach trip or intimacy. But there are some surprising benefits of not shaving your pubic hair that might make you rethink your razor habits.
Shaving as we know it began in the early 1900s when it became common for women to shave their armpits, though women have been removing hair from their bodies since the time of cavemen according to Mic. Shaving has only become more prevalent with time, and removing pubic hair specifically became a widespread practice in the last forty years or so. But it's become mega popular since then, with a study published in Jama Dermatology from 2016 finding that almost 84 percent of women groom their pubic hair to some degree.
But despite the high number of people who shave, there are actually a lot of benefits to not shaving down there, which makes sense. Your body grows that hair for a reason, so naturally there are reasons it would be good for you to have it. Of course, shaving or waxing isn't dangerous to your health, and it's up to you and you alone on what you want to do with your pubic hair. But finding out the benefits of keeping it might make you rethink your weekly shave. Read on to find out more.
1. It's Like Built-In Protection
You might not think of sex as a dangerous activity, but it can be, especially if you don't have pubic hair. Dr. Alyssa Dweck M.D., FACOG, an OBGYN based in New York, explains to Romper via email that "pubic hair acts as a cushion during intercourse since it pads the pubic bone during thrusting." Think of it like knee pads for your sensitive parts. Plus, it "provide[s] warmth and cushioning to the general vicinity," Dweck further explains, so it might help you stay toasty in the winter months. Sex injuries aren't uncommon, but having an extra layer of protection couldn't hurt.
2. It Can Make People More Attracted To You
Although the motivation for removing pubic hair is typically to look more conventionally attractive, shaving might actually have the opposite effect on a biological level. Dweck explains that "pubic hair likely traps pheromones, chemicals that provide 'ones own scent' and may have a role in mate attraction." When you shave it off, your body can't trap those pheromones as well, and since they're intended to make people want to have sex with you as Medical News Today explains, you may become less attractive on a biological level. Keeping that hair might add a little spark to your intimate life.
3. You're Less Likely To Get Rashes
Rashes and skin irritation are a common side effect of shaving, whether it be razor burn, an allergic reaction to your shaving cream, or accidentally cutting yourself. (Yikes.) If you don't shave, those things aren't really a possibility anymore, leaving you and your lady parts in peace. Indeed, Dweck listed infected hair follicles (folliculitis), rashes, and irritation (razor burn) as some of the most common issues she sees from patients who shave. Folliculitis can be particularly painful.
Alicia Johnson, a Certified Nurse Midwife at Lone Tree OBGYN and Midwives, tells Romper via email, "Folliculitis is a condition where the follicle actually becomes infected. The result is red bumps all across the area shaved. This will need to be treated as it usually doesn't go away on it's own. Treatment can include antibiotic ointment, vinegar in water soaks, or if unresolved with these methods will need antibiotics." That doesn't sound like a fun time, so maybe just skip the razor.
4. Your Risk Of Ingrown Hairs Is Lower
Ingrown hairs are hairs that have grown into your skin instead of out of it (as the name suggests), and they can be painful and you may not like how they look. Ingrown hairs can develop naturally, especially if you have curly hair, but shaving is the most likely cause, as WebMD explains. So not shaving is the best way to prevent them.
5. It Won't Be Painful When Your Partner Touches You
Lots of people think shaving or getting a wax before intimacy will make things more fun, but it can actually have the opposite effect. As Dr. Felice Gersh, MD, an OB/GYN and the founder and director of the Integrative Medical Practice of Irvine told Lauren Schumacker for Romper, "Immediately after hair removal there can be some skin irritation... That could [make] those sensitive tissues more prone to feeling irritated, burning, or itchy when touched or stroked."
6. You Have A Lower Risk Of STIs
A study published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections found a correlation between frequent pubic hair removal and a higher risk of STIs. The study didn't uncover why the correlation existed — those who remove their hair more frequently may have sex more often, or the hair could provide some sort of protection — but "Infections that affect the skin, such as HPV and syphilis, were most strongly associated with aggressive grooming," according to NPR. Either way, letting your hair do its thing will put you at a lower risk, so it's definitely something to keep in mind.
7. You'll Save So Much Time And Money
Two of the biggest drawbacks of shaving are how time-consuming and expensive it is. In my experience, shaving down there usually takes at least 10 to 20 minutes if you want to do a thorough and safe job, and since you have to shave at least once a week to keep things trim, you're spending about 21 days per year shaving on the conservative side. (Assuming my calculations are correct.) Plus, an affordable razor pack is still about $12 (Amazon), which doesn't sound like much but will definitely add up over the months. If shaving is worth the time and money to you, go for it, but it's worth thinking about what you could do with the savings.
At the end of the day, removing your pubic hair is a personal decision, and there are ways to do it safely if it's what you want. But if you only remove it because of societal pressures, knowing the benefits of keeping the bush might make you feel more comfortable giving up shaving. Bottom line: do you.