Groomed Pubic Hair: College-Educated Young Women With Higher Incomes More Likely To Shave 'Down There'

Women have experimented with their nether regions from vajazzling, vagina facials, and going full-frontal. The avant-garde days of iconic pubic hair as a mark of sexual desirability has morphed into the removal of all hair in the bikini area with disposable razors or the Brazilian wax. So, how common is grooming pubic hair among women?

According to a recent study published in the journal JAMA Dermatology, college-educated young women are more likely than other women to groom their vaginas, by either shaving, waxing, or trimming.

Previous research has found pubic hair removal is age-related. The younger the woman, the more likely she is to experiment with her appearance down south. Among those 18 to 24, only 12 percent remove nothing, while 21 percent remove everything. But among women over 50, more than half have full bushes and only two percent go bald. This highlights pubic hairlessness is not the new normal. Rather, the only clear trend is that the younger the woman, the more likely she is to trim, partly shave, or completely remove her pubes.

Dr. Tami S. Rowen, of the University of California, San Francisco, and her coauthors sought to observe whether this trend still held true, and what motivations are associated with women's pubic hair grooming habits. More than 3,300 women ages 18 to 64 were surveyed about their grooming practices, such as shaving, waxing, or trimming. Data was collected on the participants' education, income level, relationship status, and geographic location to determine whether these factors influence the likelihood of grooming.

Razor in bag The kind of woman who is more likely to groom her pubic hair has a higher education and a higher income. Pixabay, Public Domain

The findings revealed 62 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 65 reported waxing or shaving off all their pubic hair, with shaving being much more common (61 percent) than electric razors (12 percent). Other common methods included trimming, with women using scissors (17.5 percent), and waxing (4.6 percent).

Compared to other races, white women groomed more. Women 45 to over 55 years old were less likely to groom compared with younger women 18 to 24; and women with some college education or a bachelor's degree were more likely to groom. Partner preference mattered when it came to grooming motivations. Women were less likely to groom if their partners didn't or if their partners didn't prefer it.

Relationship status, and geographic location had no correlation when it came to the likelihood of grooming. Neither did the frequency of sex, types of sexual activity, or the sex of a sexual partner. However, income played a role — women who made more than $100,000 a year were 22 percent more likely to groom than those who made less than $50,000 a year.

Researchers also found 40 percent of women admitted going to the doctor as a reason for grooming. Typically, groomers considered themselves to be hairier than non-groomers in the study. They were also more likely to believe "most women groom their pubic hair" compared to their non-grooming counterparts. Women who groom were also more likely to say they looked sexier, and their vaginas looked better when they groomed.

About 60 percent of women reported hygiene as a main reason why they shave down there. However, removing pubic hair does not make things cleaner. The removal of pubic hair will naturally irritate and inflame the hair follicles left behind, leaving small open wounds. When irritation is combined with the warm moist environment, this can become a breeding ground for bacterial pathogens, specifically Group A Streptococcus, Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to Dr. Kevin Pho, a physician in Nashua, NH. This can also lead to an increase in staph boils and abscesses.

So, pubic hair does have a purpose: it provides a cushion against friction that can cause abrasion and injury and offers protection from bacterial pathogens.

Rowen’s study concluded: "Future direction for research include understanding the cultural differences as they relate to pubic hair grooming and the role of the health care professional in influencing women's grooming habits.”

In other words, understanding women’s pubic hair grooming behaviors and how they reflect cultural norms could help doctors determine whether it could be a source of diseases.

So, grooming your pubic hair won’t improve your hygiene or give you better sex.

So, why do you trim, shave, wax, or go au naturale?

Source: Rowen TS, Gaither TW, Awad MA et al. Pubic Hair Grooming Prevalence and Motivation Among Women in the United States. JAMA Dermatology. 2016.

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