Q&A: Young American Women: Only Ones Who Shave Their Pubic Area?

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QUESTION: Is it just a young American thing for women to shave their pubic area? Isn't there a reason they shouldn't? Do women in other cultures do it?

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Razor-Hair

Photo: tranchis (flickr.com)

Some women have found that they don't like the side effects that come with removing hair, such as razor burn from shaving.

A New Trend

Over the past decade, an increasing number of American women – mostly younger women in their teens, twenties and thirties – have been removing more if not all of their pubic hair. Many men, too, have been following this trend and trimming, shaving or waxing off more of their pubic hair than in the past.

Though this has become a more recent trend in the United States, there are at least a few other countries in which pubic hair removal is common. However, in most cultures, it is not common for adult women to remove all of their pubic hair. After all, pubic hair is one of the physical signs of sexual maturity.

Who is Doing the Shaving

Just how many women or men are removing all of their pubic hair, however, is unknown. There have only been a handful of studies on the topic and most have used convenience samples that don’t give us valid or reliable information about American women on the whole.

As a result, we don’t know how many women or men remove all of their pubic hair in big cities versus small towns or at what age total removal tends to begin.

Hairy Perks

That said, not all women and not all men remove all of their pubic hair in the United States. Many of the college students I talk to say that they prefer to not remove all of their pubic hair. Some have tried it and found that they didn’t like the side effects that come with removing more and more hair, side effects such as razor burn from shaving or in-grown hairs that may be common with either shaving or waxing.

Others, like you, just don’t like the way that it looks to be without pubic hair. Some women and men say that having no hair makes them feel like a child who hasn’t even gone through puberty. Also, some men have told me that they find it difficult to find a woman without pubic hair to be sexy as she looks more like a child than a grown adult woman.

The Sexy Side of Pubic Hair

It’s also common for women and men to say that there’s something they like about having even just a little bit of pubic hair. Some people find that it feels very sensual to have a little bit of pubic hair to tug on – that it can enhance sensation during masturbation or partner sex. Others just like how it looks.

Then again, some people prefer for their pubic area to feel smooth and hairless. Or they may find that they feel more comfortable giving or receiving oral sex when there is very little pubic hair or no pubic hair.

I tend to encourage women and men to do what feels most comfortable for them and also to consider what kind of body they will feel most sexy in. Even if your partner finds a certain type of pubic hair style to be sexy, if you don’t, then it may inhibit you during sex to have a style that doesn’t feel right to you.

Different Hair Styles

A nice thing about pubic hair is that it can be removed with relative ease and unless you are using permanent removal or reduction techniques such as electrolysis or laser reduction, it grows back in relatively quickly – with a few days or a week if you’ve shaved it off and within 2-4 weeks if you’ve waxed some or all of it off. As a result, people can experiment with different styles to see what feels right to them.

Learn More

To learn more about the pros and cons of different methods of pubic hair removal, check out The V Book: A Doctor’s Guide to Complete Vulvovaginal Health or Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure & Satisfaction.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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Comments

  • Jeff

    I am thankful for this trend myself. I, several years ago, heard of mostly women doing so this. It was a turn on for me and I asked my wife if she would shave down there. She refused and that was that. As I kept reading I read alot of women saying I won't shave down there if my husband won't. I then decided to give it a second go by shaving myself to encourage her to shave. I found it very comfortable and wished I would have done it long ago. Recently while on vacation my wife and I were enjoying ourselves in the hotel room when I thought I'd see what would happen if I shaved her pubes off. Once naked I went to the bathroom and retrieved my razor and cream. When I returned I put it on her pubes and started to shave. She froze and gave me no resistance. I couldn't believe she let me to it, but we are now both shaved with few pubes below. I love it and she does to. We are both in our upper 40's withing we would have done this long ago.

  • Name joe

    young women shave off their pubic hairs because porno is easly available.and they and they think they should look like porno queens.(ridiculous)

  • electrolysis hair

    I really appreciate this wonderful post that you have provided for us. I assure this would be beneficial for most of the people.

  • Dr. Thomas

    Shaving the pubic area has become much more common, even desirable, among teenagers. Although shaving may be becoming the social norm, that does not mean you should do it. Shaving is a personal choice. There can be health consequences associated with any type of depilation: shaving, waxing, clipping, tweezing, threading or laser treatment. Your pubic area is especially sensitive to these hair-removal techniques. If you do decide to shave your pubic area, you should know that shaving of any kind can have some health consequences.

    Possible Consequences
    •Itching
    •Razor burn
    •Nicks
    •Cuts
    •Bumps
    •Blisters/Pimples
    •Genital infections
    •Ingrown hairs
    •Folliculitis: an infection in the hair follicle usually caused by the bacteria Staphylococcus (staph) or a fungus.
    *A common cause of folliculitis is recently shaved hairs re-growing out of the follicle and curling back around to irritate the skin.

    It is also important to realize that if you’re planning on keeping your pubic area smooth and hairless, you will need to shave regularly, even daily. You should consider if this is worth the trouble; what is appealing now may not be after four or five weeks of daily shaving. In addition to being time-consuming, the maintenance can be costly since you need to invest in special shaving equipment and care like a new razor, female shaving cream,* baby oil and/or aloe vera cream.

    If you have already tried shaving and are experiencing any of the above problems, there are general treatment procedures to help. However, these are not comprehensive, and if you are having any serious problems, you should consult your medical provider.

    Aside from knowing about health consequences, there are some “myths” in which to be aware.

    Shaving “Myths”
    •Hair will grow back faster. FALSE. After shaving, hair will not grow back any faster or slower than it did before you started shaving; you will probably just notice the changes more.
    •Hair will become thicker. FALSE. Your body has a set number of hair follicles, and no new ones are created after you shave. This means that there won’t be more hairs, and the hairs also will not be any thicker than they were before you started shaving.
    •Shaving always creates ingrown hairs. FALSE. Every body is different, and every person is susceptible to ingrown hairs to a different extent. Some people get more ingrown hairs than others. This still does not mean that you will get ingrown hairs every time you shave. Furthermore, there are practices and products that can help reduce the occurrences of ingrown hairs, like scrubbing the area with a loofah or shaving in the direction of hair growth.
    •Shaving your pubic area will get rid of crabs and other STIs. FALSE. Pedicularis pubis, commonly known as ‘crabs’ or public lice, is highly infective and is transmitted through sexual contact. If you have not been treated for an infection, shaving will not eradicate the lice. Furthermore, shaving will not protect you from getting other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
    *Female shaving cream is recommended for both male and female pubic shaving as all products are more mild and gentle than almost any type of male shaving cream. Also, male shaving creams are often perfumed, which will cause stinging and irritation when applied to the pubic area.

    I would not recommend that any woman completely shave their pubic hair.
    Shaving the bikini line is one thing, but saving near the vagina has more negative consequences than positive. Women past the age of 40 increase their risk of infection due to obvious changes with their bodies.

  • mensshavingsupplies

    I agree, it is a turn on, and can bring a little spark to the bedroom. :)