According to gynecologists, pubic hair does, in fact, have a purpose – even more than one, to be accurate.
When you think about it, pubic hair is one of those things that unites all of humanity. No matter who someone is or where they come from, chances are they have pubic hair after they reach a certain age. Or at least that they did until they jumped on the hair-removal bandwagon. Maybe they’ve even given oiling their pubic hair a go since apparently now that’s a thing.
It used to be that porn stars and swimsuit models were the only ones coifing their vaginas, women’s health experts note. Now, in 2019, American women consider grooming their vagina as part of their monthly beauty prep along with their mani-pedi, eyebrow tweezing, lip, leg and underarm waxing, and brow and eyelash tinting.
But still, it begs the question: why does pubic hair exist in the first place? Does having hair down there make any difference other than the visual aesthetics? Is it merely decorative?
Protecting you from friction
According to gynecologists, it does, in fact, have a purpose – or even more than one, to be accurate.
Experts say our pubic hair provides a cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasion and injury. In fact, the skin on your genital region is delicate. Pubic hair acts like a protective buffer, reducing friction. It’s the perfect cushion during sex, bicycling, physical exercise and other forms of activity that put pressure on your vagina.
Some sources even refer to pubic hair as a “dry lubricant.” That’s because it’s easier to rub hair against hair than it is to rub skin against skin.
A trap for germs
Many medical theories include that pubic hair also prevents floating germs from entering the vagina. Actually, pubic hair serves a similar function to eyelashes or nose hair. That is, it traps dirt, debris, and potentially harmful microorganisms.
In addition, hair follicles produce sebum, an oil that actually prevents bacteria from reproducing.
It follows that pubic hair may protect against certain infections, including cellulitis, sexually transmitted infections, urinary tract infections, vaginitis, and yeast infections.
Some clinicians are finding that freshly shaved pubic areas and genitals are also more vulnerable to herpes infections due to the microscopic wounds being exposed to viruses carried by mouth or genitals.
According to experts, pubic hair may also keep the genitals warm, like most of the hair on our other body parts. It helps maintain the optimal temperature in the pubic region when the weather is too hot or too cold.
Some chemistry for sexual life
In fact, there are a few sensual benefits, as well. It turns out our pubic hair is an important factor in sexual arousal.
It can play a role in regulating temperature, but more importantly, it is thought to trap pheromone scent from our natural perspiration, for sexual and partner attractiveness—who knew?
Many theories link pubic hair to the transmission of pheromones or scent-carrying chemical secretions that affect mood and behavior. Pubic hair may bear pheromones, or chemicals your body produces that send subconscious messages to other human animals, including potential mates.
Pheromones are secreted from apocrine sweat glands. Compared to other areas of the body, the pubic region has a lot of these glands. According to the Journal of Advanced Research, apocrine sweat glands, which are plentiful in areas that have lots of hair follicles—such as the pubic region—could create pheromones, and interestingly, they do not begin to function until puberty when sex hormones have an impact on their activity.
Therefore, as the theory goes, pubic hair may trap pheromones, increasing how attractive we appear to potential sex partners. When you think of it, it does make sense that the smell of pubic hair can sexually entice your partner.
That dovetails nicely with another theory about pubic-hair purpose: that it signals to possible mates that you’ve gone through puberty and may be able to produce offspring. For primitive purposes, perhaps pubic hair was a gender-specific way to identify women of reproductive age, scientists say.
But science is divided when it comes to pheromones, and there’s debate over what they really are or do and no conclusive evidence in humans that they even exist.
That uncertainty, however, has no effect on the prevalent pubic proposal, which is that pubic hair helps keep your most private bits safe.