Study: Women Commonly Remove Pubic Hair, Despite Risks

Doctor filling in paperwork during appointmentAccording to the first nationally representative study of pubic hair removal trends in women, the majority of women remove some of their pubic hair. The results were published in JAMA Dermatology.

More than half (59%) of women who removed some or all of their pubic hair cited “hygienic” reasons for the practice. Yet doctors and public health experts say removing the pubic hair serves no hygienic purpose and actually increases the risk of infection and other health problems. Pubic hair grooming removes a barrier between the genitals and bacteria and other dangerous microbes. Some women also experience shaving-related problems, such as rashes or serious cuts.

Which Women Are More Likely to Remove Pubic Hair?

The study looked at 3,316 women who responded to a survey about pubic hair removal. The majority (83.8%) reported removing at least some of their pubic hair. Researchers did not find an association between household income, geographic location, or relationship status and pubic hair removal, but they did find other correlations:

  • Younger women ages 18-24 were significantly more likely than women 45 and older to remove their pubic hair.
  • Attending college increased the likelihood that a woman would regularly remove some of her pubic hair.
  • White women were significantly more likely to groom their pubic hair than all other racial groups.

Removing all pubic hair was the most common option, with 62.1% of respondents reporting they had done so at least once. Most participants (92.8%) performed their own grooming.

Why Do Women Groom Their Pubic Hair?

Although hygienic motivations were the most common reason for removing pubic hair, 31.5% reported aesthetic concerns. Nearly half (45.5%) said shaving was just a part of their routine, and 19.6% said hair removal made oral sex easier.

Concerns about sex were a leading motivator for hair removal, but women also expressed concerns about how other people might perceive them. Forty percent said they removed pubic hair before going to the gynecologist. Many gynecologists say some women who do not groom before an appointment become self-conscious, even in a medical setting that is meant to be private.

This concerns many health experts, who anecdotally report peer pressure, social media, and internet pornography as common influencers for teens who believe going bare is a social norm.

References:

  1. Fernandez, E. (2016, June 29). More women are grooming their pubic hair, but practice poses risks. Retrieved from https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2016/06/403466/more-women-are-grooming-their-pubic-hair-practice-poses-risks
  2. Mole, B. (2016, June 29). Most women shave their nether regions for hygiene; doctors facepalm. Retrieved from http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/06/most-women-shave-their-nether-regions-for-hygiene-doctors-facepalm/
  3. Rowen, T. S., Gaither, T. W., Awad, M. A., Osterberg, C., Shindel, A. W., & Breyer, B. N. (2016). Prevalence and motivation for pubic hair removal among women in the United States. JAMA Dermatology, 13(6). doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.2154

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  • Barbara

    Barbara

    July 5th, 2016 at 1:14 PM

    This is all you hear about, the need to groom so of course there are more women doing this now than ever before. And younger and younger girls are keeping up that trend too, so I don’t see that it will show any signs of slowing down.

  • Philomena

    Philomena

    July 5th, 2016 at 2:30 PM

    There are so many guys out there who will not have sex with a girl if she doesn’t shave or wax. They hate the whole idea of women and pubic hair because they have been conditioned to think that only bare is the way to go. I have lots of female friends who wouldn’t have chosen to get rid of everything until a guy said something or implied that it was gross so what are we supposed to do? This is what guys have been led to think is the ideal and so they have pushed that onto us. As a young woman it is pretty hard to stand up against what society’s standards of beauty are.

  • alex

    alex

    July 8th, 2016 at 1:25 PM

    So what I am waiting for is the 70s to cycle back around so that none of us have to even worry about doing any of this anymore!

  • Jane

    Jane

    July 9th, 2016 at 8:49 AM

    The biggest risk is women trying to be something that genetically we are not designed to be. And why? because some men thought that this was the look that we should all have.

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