By Lauren Streicher, MD
Your head is not the only place on your body that reflects hair fashions. Today, genital hair styles range from completely natural, to a neat trim, to a totally bald Brazilian. While some women remove hair for religious reasons, others say vulvar baldness increases sensation during sex and feels “more hygienic.” Most young women say they simply prefer the way it looks and regard removing genital hair as no different than shaving legs or armpits.
Age, socioeconomic level, race and religion are all variables that have been associated with the choice of pubic hair style, but is there an association of groomed pubes and sexual behavior?
The general perception is that someone who goes to the trouble, expense and sometimes pain of hair removal is more likely to be in a partnered relationship than just because they want to look nice in the locker room, but no one had specifically studied the association between specific sexual activities and genital-hair removal.
Until now, that is. In 2013, researchers from Indiana University conducted a study of 2,400 women between the ages of 18 and 68 to determine if shaving and waxing correlated with sexual interest and sexual behavior.
They looked at diary entries for 49,000 days and found that on the days that someone removed hair, they were far more likely to report sexual interest and engage in specific kinds of sexual activities. Interestingly, while age was a factor (young women were the most likely to remove genital hair), contrary to other reports, there was no association between hair removal and ethnicity, race or educational level.
So, did hair removal occur because the women anticipated sexual activity and were “preparing,” or did hair removal make someone “feel sexier” and choose to engage? Hard to say since the researchers did not take it to the next step and ask why someone removed hair on a particular day.
As far as being “more hygienic,” there is no reason to think that is the case. In fact, a study released in March 2013 suggested that the irritation from hair removal was potentially responsible for the increase in vulvar molluscum contagiosum, a sexually transmitted virus that causes a skin eruption.
So remove it if you desire, but keep in mind that burns from wax that is too hot, ingrown hairs and unattractive red bumps are all possible consequences. And whether you wax, shave or laser, keep in mind that pubic hair is there to decrease friction during intercourse, so don’t be surprised if suddenly rug burn and chafing become an issue.
First published 7/12/13 doctoroz.com