While once people shaved or waxed their pubic hair, new methods of hair removal have become popular. Pubic hair care is no longer seen as the preserve of women -- many men now also trim or remove it.
Reasons for Pubic Hair
Besides being an indicator of sexual maturity, nobody knows for sure why people have pubic hair. Popular scientific theory links the necessity of pubic hair to pheromones and erotic attraction. Some other theories posit that the hair is necessary to keep the genitals warm in cold weather and that pubic hair on women acts as a filter for foreign bodies and prevents them from travelling into the vagina. Pubic hair develops in puberty, between the ages of 9 and 16 in boys and between the ages of 11 and 14 in girls.
Choices in Care
Any pubic hair care is a personal choice. For some this means leaving the hair natural and unaltered; for others it means trimming or removing the hair. There are many reasons why a person might choose to remove or trim pubic hair -- for comfort, for hygiene purposes or to increase sexual attractiveness. The area should always be kept as clean as possible and must be washed when showering. Hair removal, however, is not essential to maintain good hygiene.
Methods of Removal
There are a number of ways to remove pubic hair. These include trimming the area with scissors, shaving, waxing, tweezing and plucking, use of depilators (devices that pluck hair out) and hair removal creams. These can all be done at home, although waxing is available in most beauty salons. Longer-term hair removal systems are available such as electrolysis (in which a current is passed through the hair follicle to destroy it) and laser hair removal (in which the follicle is destroyed by laser).
Benefits of Removal
The benefits of removal are a matter of taste. Many adults prefer to feel smooth, or believe that removing some or all of the hair makes them "cleaner." For others, a reduction in pubic hair increases sexual attractiveness and enhances a sexual encounter. There are no definitive benefits to pubic hair removal apart from increased confidence or self-esteem of the person who removes it.
Dangers of Removal
Potential dangers are associated with each method of hair removal. Shaving can often cause rashes and follicle infection, caused by Staphylococcus aureus, an infection usually caused by unclean razors. Common side effects of plucking, lasering, electrolysis or waxing are scarring, increased pigmentation and infections of the follicle. Itching as the hair grows back occurs with all methods of pubic hair removal besides trimming.
- Planned Parenthood: Ask the Experts
- Pubic Hair Removal -- Pearls and Pitfalls; Jonathan D.K. Trager, M.D.
- Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: Methods of Hair Removal