What’s Pubic Hair for, Anyway? Now We Know

Posted on August 9, 2012


The camaraderie one finds in some Army units is hard to describe, the result of weeks or even months on end hanging together under tough conditions.  We get close.  The conversations can get interesting.  Way back in the late 1980s, one such conversation went like this:   “I don’t get the hair pattern on people.”  After some discussion about beards, baldness, and so on, we naturally turned to armpit and pubic hair.  “What is up with that?  We lose all the rest of our body hair, but not there?  What’s it for?”  One of our number was apparently smarter than the rest of us.  “It’s to prevent friction.  Think about it.”  He put the heels of his hands together and rubbed them back and forth.  We thought about it.  “Naw…”

As it turns out, he was probably right.  Thanks to thousands of overly self-conscious people who have become inexplicably grossed out by pubic hair and have been spending the past few years and about a kajillion dollars having it shaved, tweezed, waxed, lasered, and just about anything else that will get it off, down to the last follicle – we are now bearing witness to a grand, self-administered human experiment, and the results are starting to come in.  As Dr. Emily Gibson writes at KevinMD:

“Pubic hair removal naturally irritates and inflames the hair follicles left behind, leaving microscopic open wounds…. When that irritation is combined with the warm moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy culture medium for some of the nastiest of bacterial pathogens, namely Group A Streptococcus, Staphylococcus aureus and its recently mutated cousin methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). There is an increase in staph boils and abscesses, necessitating incisions to drain the infection, resulting in scarring that can be significant. It is not at all unusual to find pustules and other hair-follicle inflammation papules on shaved genitals.  Additionally, I’ve seen cellulitis (soft-tissue bacterial infection without abscess) of the scrotum, labia and penis as a result of spread of bacteria from shaving or from sexual contact with strep or staph bacteria from a partner’s skin. Some clinicians are finding that freshly shaved pubic areas and genitals are also more vulnerable to herpes infections due to the microscopic wounds being exposed to viruses carried by mouth or genitals. It follows that there may be vulnerability to spread of other STIs as well…  Pubic hair does have a purpose, providing a cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasion and injury, protection from bacteria and other unwanted pathogens.”

It is a personal choice, of course.  Think the hair is gross? Like the Barbie-doll look?  Okay, whatever.  But for all the folks out there who are removing their pubes out of a sense that it is “cleaner,” just be aware:  it’s not.  If your real goal is to be clean “down there,” try soap and water.

And then there is this:  Jenna Sauers, writing for Jezebel, points to various commercial photo spreads – apparently there are still models out there who look like adult women – and wonders if pubic hair may be coming back into fashion [caution: this link is not safe for work].  As she notes,

“Now that the Atlantic is telling us that even 22-year-olds in Minnesota know about Brazilians — and that their bro-dude partners, having never seen a woman with any pubic hair, proclaim the mere idea to be “disgusting” — obviously fashion can’t be into hairless vadge. Fashion has to be against the mainstream! Pubic hair is now being validated by the coolest of fashion magazines. Adjust accordingly.”


Well, thank goodness!  I was beginning to think I would be regarded as a freak at the old people’s home one day.

I still haven’t figured out what armpit hair is for, though.