All You Need To Know About Pubic Hair
Everyone has hair around their intimate area. But what is it and why is it there?
Naturally long and curly, trimmed short, groomed into a style or completely removed. No matter what it looks like, everyone grows pubic hair. But what actually is it?
Pubic hair (or pubes for short) is the hair that grows on and around some of the areas of your V-Zone (that’s the vagina, vulva and V-shaped front you can see). We call it pubic hair because it grows on the pubis or pubic bone, which is the V-shaped front bit of your pelvis. But that’s not the only area of the V-Zone where hair can grow! You may find it on your inner thighs, on either side of your vulva (called the labia majora or outer lips) and stretching to the back of your body around your bum. All of this is completely normal.
Why do we have pubic hair?
Your pubes are there for a reason, and these little squiggly hairs are actually pretty useful. Your pubic hair acts as a barrier that protects against potentially harmful bacteria and viruses entering the body. In the same way that your eyelashes keep dirt, debris and microorganisms from falling into your eyes, pubic hair protects you against infection by trapping sweat, oil and bacteria.
The layer of hair also lessens friction, acting like a buffer which can prevent your sensitive V-Zone skin from rubbing and chafing during exercise, sex and other activities. It’s there for the same reason that you might use a fluffy rug to protect your toes from sticking to the floor. Because of this, it’s even been referred to as “dry lubricant” . One study has even found that pubic hair may reduce your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) .
When will I start growing pubic hair?
Growing pubic hair is one of the first signs you might notice when you start the process of puberty. At first, it might just be a few fine hairs. After a year or so after starting puberty, the hair becomes coarser and curlier. It might be thicker and darker than the hair on your head.
It can be a little shocking when it starts to grow, but you’ll quickly get used to it! Everyone starts puberty when it’s the right time for them, so don’t worry too much or compare yourself to others. All our bodies grow at different rates and in different ways, and that’s ok.
Along with growing pubic hair, you might also grow thicker, darker hair under your armpits and experience other changes like starting your period or your boobs developing. If you’d like to learn more about what to expect during this time, check out our article on the stages of puberty.
Intimate area hair removal
Everyone has pubic hair – it’s completely natural and there for a reason, so it’s absolutely fine to leave it as it is. Some people choose to groom the hair around their intimate area in a certain way that looks, and feels good for them. Just like the hair on your head, everyone has a preference. Some use it as a way to express themselves, some groom to help it better fit their lifestyle, while others just can’t be bothered with the hassle, and like it just the way it is.
Although it’s common for people of all genders to remove some or all their pubic hair, whatever you choose – including leaving everything alone – is entirely your decision. Keeping your pubes in place can bring some benefits as mentioned before, but removing them isn’t going to affect your health. It just means a bit more time spent on maintenance.
Anything from a tidy-up to total removal may require shaving, using depilatory cream or wax. A more expensive option with a longer-term effect is laser treatment. Most women usually try a few techniques out before they settle on what works best for them, though. Do whatever fits with your lifestyle, and what makes you feel good – even if that means doing nothing at all!
Intimate hygiene and pubic hair
If you do choose to groom your pubic hair in any way, there are a few things you might want to be aware of to maintain the health of your sensitive V-Zone skin.
Be gentle when shavingWhen using a shaving razor, be extra careful! Even the smallest skin tear can put you, or a sexual partner, at more risk of catching an STI. If you prefer shaving, always go easy around your hard-to-reach bits and be sure to watch out for nicks or cuts.
Soothe sensitivity after shavingYou might find your skin is sensitive after shaving or using hair removal cream, so try to avoid wearing trousers that are too tight, as any friction on this area will make it more irritated or sore. Usually, your skin will calm down within a couple of days, but if you find it doesn’t, make sure the razor, cream or shaving foam you use agrees with your skin type. If you’re looking for something to minimise the risk of further skin irritation to your intimate skin after hair removal, try wash gels, though with waxing, it’s often advised that you wait a few hours after a treatment before you shower or take a bath. You could use the opportunity to read, listen to your favourite podcast or apply a facemask while you wait.
Avoid ingrown hairs after waxingWaxing is popular because it’s quick and gives a smooth finish that can last for weeks. It may however, cause ingrown hairs. Don’t worry though. A little gentle exfoliation in the shower will help to prevent these.
Getting your intimate hygiene game rightFrom time to time, you might find your V-Zone gets a little sweaty. Some people like to trim their pubic hair occasionally, but a quick wash or shower will keep you feeling comfortable, especially after exercise or sex. If normal soap makes your skin irritated, washes are gentle on sensitive skin. It won’t mess with your vulva’s natural pH level either, so you’ll be less likely to experience an infection or dryness. For some sticky situations when showering or washing are not an option (think on the go or at a music festival), wipes are a really useful addition to your bag. They give you a quick freshen up, and like all products, they won’t upset your vulva’s good bacteria. Whatever you do with your pubic hair, what’s most important is that you have a healthy, happy vulva and a V-Zone hygiene routine that works for you. For more information on intimate wellbeing, check out our pages on getting to know your V-Zone and what your vagina should smell like.
The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition.