Why do we have pubic hair? - Play Safe
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Pubes, bush, carpet, map of tassie, rug – whatever you call it, pubic hair can be a divisive issue. Whether you choose to treat your pubic hair like a work of art or prefer to lay it bare, the decision is all yours. 

 

Why do we even have pubic hair?

Love it or hate it, pubic hair is there for a reason (well, a few actually): 

  • reducing friction during sex
  • preventing bacteria and other microorganisms from transmitting to others
  • keeping genitals at the perfect temperature

Despite its purpose, some people may choose to remove or trim their pubic hair. This is not necessary and doesn’t have any specific sexual health benefits. So, any pubic hair styling is purely a personal preference. If you do decide to remove any of the hair in this region, it’s really important to know how to do it safely and understand the impact it can have in terms of your sexual health. 

When does pubic hair arrive?

During puberty, the body goes through a lot of hormonally driven changes. Some happen internally and aren’t immediately noticeable and some are more obvious physical changes. The arrival of pubic hair can be categorised as one of the latter changes and will usually happen at the start of puberty development, between the ages of 9 – 11.  

REMEMBER THOUGH: Everyone is different and your development or growth may not fit within these ranges, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you or your body. It’s just doing things in its own way.

Where does pubic hair grow?

Hairy bum crack? Balding labia majora? A rogue pube on the penile shaft? That’s all normal folks! Pubic hair is by nature, quite wild. Usually it will grow in the pubic regions, which encompass quite a large portion of the body. From your navel to your tailbone, it’s all free-reign. Those hairs can wander far and wide or stay somewhat contained. It’s normal to find pubic hair in, on or around your:

  • Thighs
  • Testicals 
  • Labia majora 
  • Bottom 
  • Anus 
  • Penis 
  • Pubic bone
  • Navel 

REMEMBER THOUGH: Everyone is different and your development or growth may not fit within these ranges, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you or your body. It’s just doing things in its own way.

 

Should I remove my pubic hair?

As mentioned, this is 100% a personal choice and not necessary for hygiene or sexual pleasure. In fact, if not done safely, removing your pubic hair can have some uncomfortable side effects. Hair removal techniques may cause microscopic damage to each hair follicle making it easier for bacteria to get under the skin, causing the following conditions:

  • Genital soreness, itching and rash
  • Razor cuts or burns
  • Pimples and ingrown hairs
  • Painful boils and abscesses that can cause scarring

Risks of removing pubic hair 

Pubic hair is essentially just another barrier of protection between your genitals and anything they may come into contact with. Once removed, the bare skin is more readily exposed. So in addition to skin irritation, the loss of hair may make you more susceptible to STIs transmitted by skin to skin contact, such as herpes and genital warts. There’s also the consideration of side effects from various hair removal tactics (many of which we’ve mentioned earlier in this article). When removing your pubic hair, it is important to consider the possible risks: 

  • Shaving: Can cause itchiness, chafing, ingrown hairs, nicks or rashes
  • Waxing: Could result in bleeding, ingrown hairs, redness or irritation and tenderness to the area
  • Using hair removal creams: Can cause allergic reactions, so always test it before applying to the whole area
  • Laser hair removal: Isn’t suitable for everyone. It is important to speak to a professional about whether laser hair removal is right for you before you make an appointment

How do you remove pubic hair safely?

These days, there are a number of ways you can safely remove pubic hair depending on your budget, how much time you have and your personal preference. 

  • Shaving: A cheap and easy solution. Just be wary that shaving is very short-term, hairs will grow back much more quickly than if you wax or laser the region.
  • Waxing: This removes the hair from the root, so it takes a little longer to grow back. Over time, it may even reduce the amount of hair that grows or make it appear ‘finer’ in texture. 
  • Using hair removal creams: Depilatory creams can remove pubic hair, but if you have sensitive skin, it may cause a reaction. Always read the instructions and it is best to test a small patch of skin first.
  • Trimming: You can use scissors or an electric shaver to trim and maintain pubic hair. If using scissors, remember to take it slow and be super careful.
  • Laser hair removal: This is a longer-term solution and the most expensive of the bunch. Laser hair removal specialists usually recommend 8-12 sessions for effective results. Hair may completely disappear or grow back in a different, more manageable texture. Keep in mind that results may vary depending on your skin and hair type.

Best hygiene practices when removing hair

Before removing any pubic hair, trim it short using an electric trimmer or clean sharp scissors and pre-wash area with an antibacterial shower gel. To minimise the risk of any irritation, you can: 

  • If shaving, use a clean sharp preferably new safety razor, shaving gel or foam, and shave in the direction the pubic hair grows. And don’t share razors!
  • If shaving or waxing, moisturise the shaved or waxed area with aloe vera or sorbolene cream (avoid fragrant creams).
  • If using hair removal creams, read and follow the instructions carefully, and try a patch first to check for allergies. 
  • If lasering, follow the aftercare instructions from your laser hair removal specialist. 

Avoid sexual contact immediately after hair removal. Depending on the chosen method of hair removal, the timeframe between removing and engaging in sex can vary. If you’ve nicked yourself shaving or have some bleeding from waxing, it’s best to wait until those tiny sores are fully healed. For the chemical removal, once the area has settled down and doesn’t look or feel sore, you’re safe to strip off and have sex (using a condom, obviously). 

What to do if you get a reaction from removing pubic hair

It’s quite common to get small genital cuts, a bit of redness, itchiness, swelling, or red bumps immediately after any type of hair removal. Applying cold packs and aloe vera or sorbolene cream may help relieve some of the swelling and redness.

Itchiness is often caused by pubic hair growing back or a reaction to something used during hair removal. It may be necessary to get a cream from the pharmacy to relieve these symptoms. Do not continue to shave, wax, use hair removal cream or laser on the affected area until it’s better, and don’t use fragrant soaps as these might irritate the skin and make the condition worse (ouch!). 

Most importantly, removing the hair may have uncovered something you hadn’t previously noticed like lumps, bumps or redness. Always get an STI test or see your GP if you notice any changes in the way your genitals look, feel or function.

 

Do you have questions about sexual health? Why not join the conversation on the Play Safe sex and relationship forum or ask Nurse Nettie a question. If you would like to find out more about STI testing and STI treatment in Sydney and NSW, you’ll find all the information you need here.

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