Shaving 'Down There:' Is It Okay?

| Women's Health
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(Photo: Shutterstock)

Shaving pubic hair has always been a popular topic in women's health. A still-popular trend is for women to shave their vulva completely bald, but now it seems that not shaving at all is making a comeback. One of the reasons for this bushy resurgence is because there are health risks involved for women with completely shaved pubic areas.

The human body has hair for a reason; your pubic hair is there as a cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasion. It also helps protect you from bacteria getting to close to your vagina. Removing your pubic hair can cause irritation and microscopic tears in your skin. These tears are an easy entry point for bacteria that find open wounds and the warm environment of genitals very inviting. For example, a few unpleasant bacterial pathogens are group A streptococcus, staphylococcus aureus and methicillin resistant staph aureus (MRSA). Doctors have also found that these conditions are also vulnerable to herpes infections because of the microscopic wounds. 

The skin on your vulva is sensitive, so you need to take extra care of it! Here are a few things you should know before shaving down there:

Removing your pubic hair can create abscesses

Gynecologists have noted the increase in abscesses — also known as boils — since shaving the pubic area has become popular. Boils are caused by bacteria entering the body through the hair follicle. The good news is that it can easily be treated.

Shaving isn't any worse than waxing

Waxing won't be able to get more pubic hair out than shaving would. Your pubic hair grows at a slant so even waxing it won't be able to fully pull out the hair — and it can still become an ingrown hair. Both waxing and shaving do the exact same thing: remove hair. While waxing will have longer-lasting effects than shaving, you can still be at risk for ingrown hairs.

Ingrown hairs aren't dangerous

Both waxing and shaving can cause ingrown hair but the ingrown hair isn't bad. It'll be uncomfortable and painful but you shouldn't fear for your life.

Hair removal can increase STI risks

Doctors have found that removing your pubic hair can increase your STI risk because the skin is more vulnerable to infection. Your pubic hair is there to absorb moisture and drain it away.

Hair removal is more dangerous for overweight women

Risks for STIs and ingrown hairs are doubled for overweight women because the skin is closer together and has less room to breathe.

If you still prefer to go bare down there, just be sure to take precautions and be safe. Go to a professional, reputable place where you know the technicians know what they're doing. Or if you'd rather do it yourself, just wait a day or two before getting intimate with your partner.

Trimming is another option you can try rather than completely stripping yourself bare. It's safer because you'll be at less risk for ingrown hairs and STIs. Also, stay away from scented shaving creams or soaps. The soaps use chemicals to create these smells that can irritate the sensitive skin down there. Don't scratch it either, because that can make it even more vulnerable to infections!

One last tip: Wear cotton panties that breath and loose-fitting clothing that is less likely to be abrasive and irritating.