Yes, pubic hair does have a purpose. Above all else, it lessens friction during sex and prevents the transmission of bacteria and other pathogens.
There are probably other reasons why we have pubic hair, too.
Everyone has pubic hair, but we all make different decisions as to what we do with it.
Some people prefer to let it grow, while others trim it, shave it, or wax it. What you do with yours is up to you.
Read on to learn more about why it grows, how it affects hygiene, the risks associated with removal, and more.
When it comes to pubic hair, humans are an anomaly among mammals.
However, that doesn’t mean pubic hair has no purpose at all. We’ve evolved this way for a reason.
The skin on your genital region is delicate. Pubic hair acts like a protective buffer, reducing friction during sex and other activities.
Some sources even refer to pubic hair as a “dry lubricant.” That’s because it’s easier to rub hair against hair than it is to rub skin against skin.
Pubic hair may also keep the genitals warm, which is an important factor in sexual arousal.
Protection from bacteria and other pathogens
Pubic hair serves a similar function to eyelashes or nose hair. That is, it traps dirt, debris, and potentially harmful microorganisms.
In addition, hair follicles produce sebum, an oil which actually prevents bacteria from reproducing.
It follows that pubic hair may protect against certain infections, including:
We don’t fully understand all of the reasons why we have hair down there. Some additional theories are described below.
Signals reproductive ability
Pubic hair appears at puberty. It’s an obvious physical sign of sexual maturity — and consequently, one’s ability to reproduce.
In the past, it may have served as a visual cue for prospective mates.
Another theory links pubic hair to the transmission of pheromones, or scent-carrying chemical secretions that affect mood and behavior. We still don’t know exactly how pheromones influence sexuality.
Pheromones are secreted from apocrine sweat glands. Compared to other areas of the body, the pubic region has a lot of these glands.
Therefore, as the theory goes, pubic hair may trap pheromones, increasing how attractive we appear to potential sex partners.
Pubic hair growth — including location and thickness — varies from one person to the next. Some people have more pubic hair, and others have less.
With that said, extreme variations in hair growth sometimes signal an underlying hormonal condition.
For instance, among adults assigned female at birth, excessive pubic hair can be a sign of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
This condition is associated with higher-than-usual levels of testosterone, the sex hormone that controls hair growth.
Other symptoms include irregular periods and hair growth elsewhere on the body, including the face.
On the other hand, among people assigned male at birth, a lack of hair in the pubic region can be a sign of low testosterone production.
Other symptoms of low T include a low sex drive and erectile dysfunction.
Talk to a doctor if you’re experiencing irregular hair growth alongside other unusual symptoms. Hormone therapy might be able to help.
This is one of the most common misconceptions about pubic hair.
But pubic hair isn’t actually unhygienic.
Like other hair on your body, your pubes trap sweat, oil, and bacteria. So, they might have a slightly stronger odor than other areas of your body.
As long as you wash regularly, this shouldn’t be cause for concern.
There are a lot of reasons why people get rid of their pubic hair. Some of the most common ones are discussed below.
Grooming pubic hair has been common practice for centuries. Today, at least some hair removal is common.
Some theories link this trend to increased accessibility to porn, where hairlessness is the norm.
A lot of people remove their pubic hair to conform to this aesthetic standard.
For instance, in the 2013 survey cited above, 31.5 percent of women who reported grooming their pubic hair did so because they believed it would make their genitals more attractive.
In the same survey, men were less likely than women to report grooming for this reason.
For others, partner preferences drive their grooming habits.
In the 2013 survey, around 21.1 percent of women reported that their pubic grooming was related to partner preference. The same survey showed that a similar percentage of men also groom according to their partner’s desire.
In a 2015 study, men were more likely than women to report a preference for a pubic hair-free sexual partner.
In contrast, women were more likely to cite that they preferred trimmed or partially shaved or waxed pubic hair.
For some, removing their pubic hair is simply a matter of personal preference. People who prefer to remove their pubic hair often cite comfort, routine, and sexual confidence as motivating factors.
Some people believe that removing their pubic hair increases genital sensation during sex. Indeed, studies suggest that there’s a link between pubic hair removal and self-reported sexual functioning.
However, one doesn’t necessarily cause the other. There are likely other factors involved.
For instance, people who remove their pubic hair are more likely to be young, so it would make sense that they also report increased sexual functioning.
More research needs to be done to understand the link between pubic hair removal and sexual sensation.
There are some risks associated with removing your pubic hair.
Pubic grooming injuries are surprisingly common. A 2017 study based on data from the same nationally representative 2013 survey cited above reported that 25.6 percent of groomers sustained injuries during or after hair removal.
In the study, cuts were the most commonly reported injury, with burns and rashes also reported frequently.
In very rare cases, these injuries required medical attention.
As mentioned above, pubic hair serves a protective function by trapping pathogens that could otherwise enter your body.
Removing pubic hair may therefore make a person more susceptible to common infections, such as UTIs, vaginitis, and yeast infections.
Hair removal can also irritate your skin, leading to skin infections such as cellulitis and folliculitis.
In other cases, grooming-related injuries, such as cuts, could become infected.
In rare cases, hair removal might result in the development of boils in your genital area. Boils can develop from skin irritation and infections, such as cellulitis and folliculitis.
Boils usually start as red bumps just under the surface of the skin. They might be filled with pus. Boils aren’t as deep as abscesses.
As with boils, abscesses tend to develop from irritation caused by certain hair removal methods, such as shaving or waxing.
Abscesses are deep, under-the-skin infections that cause pain, swelling, and redness.
Pubic hair grooming is also associated with an increased risk of STIs.
In one 2017 study, people who reported grooming their pubic hair were more likely to also report having had an STI at some point in their lifetime, compared to non-groomers.
Some STIs that have been associated with pubic hair grooming include:
There are some things you can do to reduce your risk of an injury or infection during and after grooming your pubes.
Try the following:
- Wash yourself beforehand. Cleaning your skin before you get to trimming or shaving will help prevent the transmission of bacteria.
- Disinfect your razor blade or scissors and change blades often. Make sure all of the tools you need for the job are disinfected. Change razor blades on a regular basis, and avoid using the scissors you use to trim for other things.
- Use a handheld mirror. Make sure you can see what you’re doing, and go slowly.
- Keep skin moist and lathered. If you’re shaving, your skin should be wet. Use soap suds or shaving gel to keep the area lubricated.
- Proceed in the direction of your hair growth. For smoother results and less irritation, trim or shave your hair in the same direction it grows in.
- Moisturize after. Moisturizing after your shave or wax can help soothe irritated skin. Use a natural oil or lotion to prevent skin from drying out.
- Avoid tight clothes for a few days after. When your underwear is too close to your skin, it can worsen irritation. If you can, opt for loose underwear after a fresh shave.
- Exfoliate regularly. Use a gentle loofah or scrub to remove dead skin.
Visiting a professional to have your pubic hair removed isn’t inherently safer than doing it yourself, provided you know what you’re doing.
However, waxing is probably best done by a professional since hot wax can cause burns.
Keeping your bush clean is easy. You should:
- Wash with warm, soapy water when you take a shower.
- Avoid using scented products to clean your pubic area, as they can lead to a pH imbalance.
- Wipe after you use the toilet from front to back.
- Use a damp towel or tissue to clean your pubic area between baths or showers.
- Always dry your pubic hair after cleaning.
There’s a reason you have pubic hair. What you do with your hair — whether you trim, shave, wax, or let it grow — is up to you.