Women who shave their pubic hair thinking it is more hygienic are actually putting themselves at greater risk of infection, according to experts.
Not only does pubic hair stop viruses and bacteria reaching genitalia, it also acts as a cushion for the sensitive labia and vagina.
Dr Vanessa Mackay, from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:
“Pubic hair offers a natural barrier to keep things clean, to decrease contact with viruses and bacteria, and to protect the tender skin of the area. While protecting against diseases and skin problems, pubic hair prevents foreign particles like dust and pathogenic bacteria from entering the body. Pubic hair also helps to control the moisture of the area which decreases the chances of yeast infections.”
What’s even worse, shaving may be more unhealthy for overweight women. The new American study found that complications were twice as likely for overweight or obese women. What’s more it’s three times more likely if they removed all their pubic hair. Byrne explains that it’s because for larger women, their skin will be closer together.
“The hairs that are short are more likely to be ingrown,” he says. “There’ll also be more moisture so they’re more likely to have bacteria.”
The study by JAMA Dermatology also found that women not only groom for ‘social events’ but also break out the razor when visiting a health care professional because they are “self-conscious about their appearance even in nonsocial settings”.
The most common reasons for grooming were hygiene (59% of women sureyed). Next common reason women believe it makes their genitals more attractive (31.5%). Thirdly because their partner prefers it (21.1%).
For women who really just don’t want to go au natural, trimming is a safer option. Byrne explains that an ingrown hair follicle won’t happen with trimming. The only downside is that as the hairs grow longer, it can cause itching.
Oh, and if you’re using an electrical trimming device, be extra careful when it’s so close to your genitalia.