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How Shaving Affects Your Vaginal Health Might Have You Reconsidering Your Hair Removal Habits

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Whether it’s to get rid of some stray hairs or make a mohawk, you’ve probably taken a razor to your girly parts at some point or another. Although you might think that using a blade won’t bother your vagina, it might do more damage than you’d realize. Beyond bumpy red skin, shaving can affect your vaginal health — and not necessarily in a good way.

Pubic hair is a very personal issue, and while some people might not mind being bushy, others prefer to be completely hairless. And that’s when the trusty razor does its thing. Problem is, a razor isn’t ideal when it comes to hair removal. “The vaginal area has skin that is so, so sensitive,” Dr. Violet Klenov, M.D., FACOG, at Vios Fertility Institute tells Romper. “Short term shaving can lead to long term issues concerning vaginal health.”

But first, a primer on pubic hair. I mean, why do we even have hair down there anyway? Well, apparently pubic hair has a lot of purposes. For starters, pubic hair can hold pheromones, reported Self. And since these chemicals can attract a potential mate, it makes sense that it would be where, well, all the action is. It can also reduce friction during sex, and more importantly, protect your parts from pathogens or other bacteria from entering the vagina, Healthline reported.

Which is why you should think twice before whipping out a razor to design a landing strip on your vag. “Shaving can expose an area of skin that can lead to infected hair follicles, sebaceous cysts, or in extreme cases, cellulitis,” says Dr. Klenov. “Plus, abrasions on the skin can cause discomfort and run the risk of becoming red and inflamed.” And if you’ve ever shaved your bikini line, you know exactly what she’s talking about. (Cue the incessant itch.)

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But if you’ve got to get rid of pubic hair (and fast), a razor might be just what you need to come to your rescue. “Pubic hair grows in all different directions and is prone to developing in-grown hairs,” Dr. Jessie Cheung, a dermatologist in New York City reports to Romper. “Before shaving, you need to prep the skin — never shave dry!” And if you think using your hubby’s shaving cream will give you the richest lather, think again. “Most men's shaving creams have menthol in it, which can irritate the area,” she says. If possible, try to use a triple blade razor, which causes less trauma to the skin.

Determined to have your vagina as bald as a baby’s bottom? Consider other alternatives to shaving. Dr. Klenov suggests close clipping, which gets close to the base of the hair follicle without actually shaving the skin and weakening it. You can use men’s clippers to get a clean cut without actually cutting your skin. And you can always schedule a wax, too. “Waxing and clipping bypass the many issues that can arise when shaving and tend to keep hair growth at bay longer than shaving does, especially waxing when done regularly,” says Dr. Klenov. “It keeps skin smoother over a longer period of time with a low risk of breaking that important skin barrier.”

So whatever style you want for your nether region (such as a sweetheart or a martini style, for example), make sure that you take care of your pubic hair. Knowing how to use a razor correctly can keep your vagina hair-free and healthy, too.