Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Nancy Carteron, MD, FACR
Lightning Bolts? Hearts? Bald?
Whatever your preference, there’s certainly no doubt of the huge industry centered around what you do and don’t do with your pubic hair.
Bikinis are getting smaller, porno is chock full of shaved genitals, celebrities are talking about their newly vajazzled lady-bits, and as a result, everyone wants to hop on board the hair removal trend (if they haven’t already).
But, should you?
Is there a limit to the amount of hair you can safely remove while still protecting your genitals from unwanted infections? Can removing pubic hair cause infections? Why all the fuss about our bushes anyway?
I’ve recently come across a lot of articles emphasizing what they’re calling ‘a war on pubic hair’ aimed at bucking the pubic hair removal trend. Personally, after performing in ‘The Vagina Monologues’ this past spring, I too have taken a new stance on my vajay and the amount of hair I wish to maintain.
However, all of it comes down to personal preference once you’ve had an opportunity to consider the important medical factors as well.
Despite all of the media’s attention or enthusiastic persuasions from your partner, what you do with your pubic hair is your own business.
Also, hair (a little or a lot) down there isn’t gross; let’s just squash that opinion right here and now.
Pubic hair has a very important purpose, and it’s entirely up to you whether you choose to maintain a full 70’s bush, a landing strip or the bald look. I repeat, what you do with the hair on your genitals is YOUR business.
Don’t let someone tell you what you should do unless you’ve explicitly welcomed and asked for their input.
The Factual/Medical Details
Pubic hair actually does have a purpose.
It provides cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasions and injury and protection from unwanted pathogens (ie. STDs). It also houses all sorts of sexy pheromones – should you wish to keep some of it in its place – contributing to that enticing smell you notice when your partner opens their legs.
When someone shaves, waxes, tweezes (Ouch!) or otherwise removes the hair around their genitals, microscopic wounds are formed and provide an entry point for bacteria, parasites, and viruses. When additional irritation is combined with the warm moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy place for pathogen growth.
Thus, any kind of hair removal can provide an opportunity for contracting an STD and increases one’s risk.
Waxing, shaving, etc. and the effects of those procedures increases the risk for contracting STDs that are transmitted via fluids such as Chlamydia and Gonorrhea and poses a significant increased risk of contracting STDs that are transmitted via skin-to-skin contact such as HPV and Herpes.
French, Brazilians, Getting Professionally Trimmed
When using a professional service, viruses and bacteria can be spread from one client to another via contaminated scissors, tweezers, or surfaces.
Reusing the same spatula on multiple clients violates health codes, but it’s been known to happen and can spread microorganisms from previous clients that received a wax before you. Some salons don’t change the bikini wax as often as they should. Number one reason – it’s not cost effective, but worse than that is double dipping. Double dipping in the wax will hold the bacteria in the wax and not kill it.
Waxing in particular can be risky because the hot wax can irritate or tear the fragile skin in the bikini area, leading to infections, ingrown hairs and rashes.
Bikini waxes which remove more hair from the genital area, such as a Brazilian or French bikini waxing, will get closer to the vagina and for that reason can pose a higher risk of contracting or transmitting an STD.
What Can You Do?
Not ready to go all 70’s big bush, free-love style? That’s ok.
So, how do you achieve pubic perfection without winding up with an unwanted infection?
Here’s a list of things you can do to minimize inflammation, microscopic cuts, abrasions, and your overall risk of contracting or transmitting STDs:
- Consider shaving or waxing less of the area you previous manicured or less often
- Apply hydrocortisone cream or an OTC antibiotic cream after your maintenance routine
- Only book professional services at salons with fully licensed estheticians and stringent health policies, like soaking tools in hospital-grade disinfectant between procedures
- Apply pure aloe vera to freshly shaven and waxed areas to speed healing time
- Don’t shave, wax, etc. directly before engaging in sexual activities – allow time for your body to heal the small wounds that occur but are not always noticeable to the naked eye
- Always use fresh, clean and sharp razors
- Moisten the area before shaving with warm water to help soften hair follicles
Yes, you can have the lightning bolt or landing strip of your dreams, but be smart, aware of your risks, and consider some additional steps to negate your risk of infection.
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Did this post change your mind about shaving, waxing, or otherwise tending to your ‘lady-parts’? Are you a big fan of pubic hair already or have you found some additional solutions to help reduce your risk of contracting or transmitting an STD when it comes to pubic hair? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!