Personal hygiene is one area where almost all of us prefer to go the extra mile, especially, when it comes to the maintenance and upkeep of our nether regions. Today, for a lot of women, this also means getting rid of the hair in their pubic region. But it wasn’t always so. In fact, a couple of decades back au naturel was the way to go. It was only after the Second World War that hair removal came to be promoted as the ideal of femininity and feminine hygiene (1).
Let’s get something out of the way first, removal of pubic hair is a personal preference. We are not here to push one choice above the other as the correct one. We are here to help you make an informed decision.
What Is The Function Of The Pubic Hair?
Most of our organs and body features exist for a reason. As the human race evolved, the human body developed a number of features which would help it survive in the changing times. Body hair might seem redundant, but it evolved as a result of that. In fact, our body hair acts to regulate our body temperature, and facilitate evaporation of sweat (2). But what about pubic hair?
Even that serves a function. Pubic hair acts as a cushion for the skin around the nether regions and protects it from abrasions and cuts. Instead of being a hindrance in maintenance and upkeep of hygiene in the region, it protects the vaginal opening from dust and bacteria, by trapping it. It also helps in evaporation of the perspiration in that area (3). So, the fact remains that though you might think of it as a mild inconvenience, pubic hair does perform a very important function.
What Are The Cons Of Shaving It?
There are a lot of ways to remove pubic hair. There is waxing, electrolysis, laser removal, over-the-counter chemical depilatory creams, and shaving. While all these methods have their own advantages and disadvantages, women prefer to go the shaving route, because it’s inexpensive and can be done at one’s own convenience.
There is also the other school of thought which warns against doing so because they claim that shaving the hair down there causes it to become thicker and also makes the hair grow back quickly. This claim has no grounding in truth and at best, it is just a myth. However, there are other cons associated with shaving, and we would like to give you a heads up about them. Here they are:
- In order to maintain a smooth pubic region, you might need to shave quite frequently which can result in micro-abrasions or cuts on the skin, which can make the area vulnerable to infections.
- Then there is the issue of razor burn.
- You are also likely to have ingrown hair there which will not only mar the appearance of the area, but it will also cause you a lot of discomfort.
- Removing the hair can also increase the risk of you contracting an STI as the hair removal leads to the removal of a skin membrane that makes it easy for the bacteria to enter the body (4). However, this risk is also there with other methods of hair removal.
- You can also develop folliculitis in your genital area. Folliculitis is a condition in which tiny red bumps appear on the skin. These bumps also contain pus in them. While the condition is easily treatable and relatively harmless, it can lead to scarring (5).
How Can You Minimize The Discomfort?
- Always use a lubricant or a shaving cream to prevent getting any nicks, also use a moisturizer afterward to minimize the irritation. You can also use an over-the-counter corticosteroid cream for this. However, be careful to not apply any of these products too close to the vaginal opening.
- To further avoid irritating the area, avoid wearing skin-tight clothing or working out immediately afterwards. Your skin is more sensitive to chafing then.
- You can treat the razor burn or the ingrown hair by using a washcloth to gently exfoliate the area while taking a shower. If you are experiencing these issues, wait for them to subside before shaving again. Meanwhile, you can trim the hair.
- Also, avoid taking long hot showers, or steam baths immediately after removing hair as hot water can irritate the skin, causing it to grow bumps.
In the end, the decision to remove the hair, or grow it out, rests in your hands. However, as far as hygiene goes, removing hair doesn’t really increase your hygiene quotient, rather it puts you at a risk of contracting several diseases. Using chemical depilatory cream can reduce that risk, but then there is always the chance that it might enter the vaginal opening. So that option is again out of the window.
On the other hand, if you do decide to go the natural way, rest assured that Gloria Steinem would be proud of you! Do you have any other concerns regarding hair removal in the pubic region? Share them with us in the comments section.