Wil Dubois

Got questions about life with diabetes? So do we! That's why we offer our weekly diabetes advice column, Ask D'Mine, hosted by Wil Dubois, a veteran type 1 in New Mexico who is a diabetes author with many years of clinical experience under his belt.

Speaking of below the belt, today Wil takes on a sensitive question that many would likely be uncomfortable asking their doctor in-person. But keeping it real is our specialty here at Ask D'Mine, so here goes...

 

{Got your own questions? Email us at AskDMine@diabetesmine.com}

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Justin, type 3 from Nevada, writes: Hi Wil, I’m trying to convince my type 1 girlfriend to shave her (pubic) hair but she’s worried there might be some sort of risk, diabetes-wise. What can you tell us? She also said I should ask which method would be best. I didn’t ask for clarification, I didn’t want to look stupid. I mean, shaving is shaving, right? Anyway, I hope you know about that, too.

Wil@Ask D’Mine answers: Not to worry, Justin, you need to be an old guy like me to have learned all the secrets and subtleties of female grooming. So here’s your Shaved P**sy 101. There are five realistic ways to remove unwanted pubic hair: Shaving, chemical removal, waxing, laser, and electrolysis. Any of the five can give that newly-minted look you’re after. At least for a time.

Let’s start with shaving. Shaving for a woman is just like shaving for a man. It needs to be done frequently to achieve the desired effect. Pubic five o’clock shadow is a reality for most women after a day or two. Most women who actually shave for the shaved effect use a bladed bikini razor. Gillette makes one called the Venus, although they refrained from modifying their famous tag line and bragging that it’s the best a woman can get.

What’s up with that? 

In your girlfriend’s case, however, I’d worry about frequently using a blade “down there.” No matter how good she is with a razor, it’s only a matter of time before she cuts herself. Consider how often a man cuts his chin shaving. And your chin is right up there in front of your eyes in the shaving mirror with no complicated anatomical features to navigate around. Type 1s, if their blood sugar is less than perfect -- which describes most of us -- heal slowly when cut and are more prone to infections from cuts, anywhere on the body.

Add to that factoid that type 1 females are much more prone to yeast and urinary tract infections than anyone else, and I think you can see this is all adding up to a lot of potential trouble where neither of you want it.

An electric razor is an option, but they can still lead to irritation or “razor burn” in some women. Still, it’s probably a better choice for a woman with diabetes than a conventional razor.

Next up in defoliation options are over-the-counter chemicals called depilatories, such as the famous Nair hair remover. A word of warning on these products: Many aren’t intended for the whole enchilada. Most are designed to remove bikini line hair and some will burn the vulva if contact is made. Also, apparently many women are allergic to them, so be careful. Depilatories weaken the bond of the hair follicle at the top of the root, so the hair does grow back, but more slowly than it does following shaving -- up to three days to two weeks.

Upping the ante is waxing. Done at home or in a salon, liquid wax is dribbled over the unwanted hair and then a thin cloth is draped over the wax before it hardens. Once the wax is hard, the whole assembly is quickly torn off, like pulling a Band-Aid, ripping all the hair out from the root.

Can I say ouch?

Some women say it merely “stings,” others say that it’s quite painful, but the benefit is that the hair is very slow to grow back when pulled out from the root. A good wax job lasts a month. Of course, like diabetes, your pubic hair growth may vary.

However, be aware that many salons require a liability release or even a doctor’s note from people with diabetes. What’s the worry? A skin burn from the hot wax or an infection of the hair follicles while they seal up following the yank. Although many salons never ask about medical conditions, some experts do place a blanket ban on D-chicks getting waxed. Still, I’d personally judge it as less risky than razors.

Of course, I’ve never been waxed, so take that opinion with a grain of salt.

Next up the ladder in the quest for the prepubescent look is laser hair removal -- the hair follicles are zapped with lasers. It’s time-consuming, takes multiple sessions, and is expensive. Three-to-five hundred bucks to zap your crotch. And apparently, it doesn’t work for everybody. Some folks worry that lasers have the potential to cause a skin injury, so once again there is some caution advised for the D-community.

And lastly, the nuclear option for hair removal is electrolysis, which uses a needle-like electrode to kill each hair at the root. One at a time. Electrolysis requires many sessions, and is pricey. But financing is available (no kidding) and once killed, the hairs are dead and gone. Forever. As in all our other options, our slow-healing skin is a worry. Sterex, makers of electrolysis equipment, warns their customers: “Check that your insurance covers you for treating a diabetic client.”

Women's underpantsSo really, it looks like all the methods of pubic hair removal entail some degree of risk for women with diabetes.

But let’s be realistic here: So does getting out of bed in the morning. Naturally, the better her blood sugar control, the less the risk there is, as most infection risk has more to do with blood glucose levels than the diabetes itself. I should also mention that there are some people who think that public hair has a role to play in preventing infection. But others believe it can be the cause of infection and we are better off without it. I’m not convinced either way, so I’m ducking that whole subject for today.

So what’s my advice?

I think if she wants to do it, she should consider which route seems most sensible and least risky to her, and she should go for it. But to be honest, my biggest concern on this whole issue is that you said that you’re trying to convince her. That alerts me that this isn’t her idea, and that she isn’t too wild about either having a shaved you-know-what or about the process of getting it there. On the other hand, she did ask for the best method, so I may be reading too much into your word choice.

I have no issue at all with folks in relationships openly communicating their desires to each other. That’s how good relationships are built. And sometimes you do things for your partner strictly to make them happy. But if your “trying to convince” becomes badgering, I think you’ve stepped over the line. That not only makes you a crappy partner, if you view it from a selfish perspective, but you’re risking never seeing her nether regions again -- shaved or unshaved.

BTW, my D-sisters tell me that in the post-Trump world “p***y” has been replaced by “Cha-cha” to describe female genitals both in polite society and not-so-polite society. I imagine writers for the porn biz are frantically rewriting scripts and the actresses are struggling to re-learn their lines.

All three of them.

The lines, that is. There are waaaaay more than three porn actresses.

Speaking of porn, I’m going to pro-actively come to Justin’s defense on one issue here to keep the flaming comments to a minimum, and that’s on the issue of social norms and female beauty. We are all -- men and women alike -- victims of our societies when it comes to how we behold beauty. Times change. At one time big breasts ruled. At other times rail-thin. In times past, and in some parts of the world today, fat’s hot.

And now there’s a whole generation of young men growing up heavily exposed to ready access of online porn, where pubic hair doesn’t make a public appearance.

So beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Despite what some radical feminists may think, the fact that many modern men like the shaved look doesn’t make them crazed pedophiles. It’s simply the norm many of them grew up being exposed to. And many young women feel the look is sexy, too. 

So “shave” away if you want. Just be careful. And if anything gets infected in Cha-Cha land, call your doc right away.


This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.
Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.

Disclaimer

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.