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To Shave or Not to Shave

By: Shelagh Larson, WHNP, NCMP

What is it with women wanting to shave their pubic hair? I hear all kinds of excuses; “I’m cleaner that way”, “it itches”, “hair maintains odor” and my favorite: “men like it gone”. I just shake my head.  We have hair to wick away moisture, it serves a purpose.

Let’s start at the top: eyebrows. We have eyebrows to keep sweat and moisture from getting into our eyes. The eyebrows, which are arched, collect the sweat then diffuses away from the eyes so it goes down the side of our face. At a point in time, the fashion was to shave off eyebrows and draw on line ones. After years of eye infections, the full brow is back in style.

Think of pubic hair as a ‘vagina brow’. You sweat or get wet, the hair diffuses it to the thighs. This is much like a rain flap on a tent. You shave, wax, Neet, Nair, thread or laser the hair, anytime you sweat of get wet it goes right for the valley; the camel toe. Then you have bacteria-rich sweat that will increase the vaginal pH and there you have BV. The ‘landing strip’ is nothing but a HOV lane to an infection. In reality, pubic hair prevents infections and irritation, providing a soft protective barrier around the vaginal opening and the delicate skin in and around the vulva. Shaving and waxing one of the body’s most sensitive areas can lead to complications like burns, abrasions, folliculitis, and infections.

This also increase the chance of folliculitis. I often ask my patients, “what do men do after they shave their face?” After shave. My female patients grimace with this idea, “It would burn”. Yea, because you are not supposed to shave it bald! They surely aren’t shave the top of their head to keep it clean. A 2012 study found that 3 percent of emergency-room patients presenting with trauma to the genital area had sustained their injuries through pubic hair grooming. I have lanced too many boils because of shaving to mention.

So why do women do this? They claim they are cleaner, hair itches or they thought they were supposed to do it. It the late 1980’s the Brazilian (totally bald) became popular. The porn industry was showing this because the men “reading” these magazines wanted women from the waist up and pre-pubescent girls below. It started as more of a pedophile thing. Now that porn is so prolific, young women think that’s is the norm. “The men will think it is weird, unattractive is there is hair”, they say.

My response, “If it is blowing outside your panties or bathing suit, trim that stuff.” Just like the hair on your head, trim it. And it can be cleansed by using shampoo and conditioner, but just on the hair. This summer, even a female razor ad showed young women using a razor to trim their strategically placed topiaries. None of these “topiaries” were bald.

The women that had come in for recurrent BV and yeast infections, I challenged to stop removing their hair for 6 months. “See what happens”. The next time they came in, it was not for an infection. They were amazed. Some have even gone to coloring this hair to match the season. One went so far as to have it green with different colored polka dots. When I asked why she responded with, “The present is under the Christmas tree”.



You can see Shelagh Larson, WHNP, NCMP speak in 2017 at Skin, Bones, Hearts & Private Parts events in Orlando (April), Myrtle Beach, San Antonio, and Las Vegas.