Q: Why do men find women less attractive if they have pubic hair?
A: What a person finds attractive is extremely subjective and particular to that person. If you've known men who find pubic hair unattractive, they may actually be in the minority. According to a recent poll of over 5,000 by Askmen.com, about 40% of men said they do like it when women shave or wax their pubic hair, but the majority of men preferred women to have pubic hair.
Completely removing pubic hair seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon, really taking off in the 80 and 90s. This is likely due to a change in pornography, where most female porn actors began shaving their pubic hair off so that viewers could better see their genitals. However, the practice of completely removing one's pubic hair, whether by shaving or waxing, has a lot of drawbacks. For one, it can greatly increase uncomfortable friction during sex, causing rashes and burns. It can also lead to higher rates of genital infections, due to razor burn and ingrown hairs. So, while it may be fine to trim one's pubic hair, if that's something you and your partner are into, it's unwise to shave or wax it off completely.
Q: Why do we have pubic hair?
A: There are likely a few reasons why humans evolved to have pubic hair. First, hair often functions as a form of protection and temperature control. Since the genitals are very sensitive organs and absolutely essential to our survival as a species, it makes sense we would develop hair on them for this purpose. The hair can act as an insulator when it's too cold or hot in the environment and it can also cushion the genitals if we accidentally rub them against anything hard or sharp.
Another reason we likely developed pubic hair is because hair can help us to store pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals that leak out of our sweat glands and are derived from the hormones we produce in our bodies. Pheromones can communicate many things about us to other animals, such as our gender, general health and even our mating potential (i.e., genetic fitness). For a long time, it was thought that humans no longer communicated with each other through our pheromones, but more recent studies have found that we may still use pheromones in this way. While we now only process pheromone signals unconsciously, they may still be used to signal important things, such as a person's mating potential. We primarily release pheromones from our genitals and our armpits, because both regions contain lymph nodes, which help process hormones. So, it makes sense that we would grow hair in these particular places. The hair can help keep these areas warm enough to produce pheromones and then the hair follicles can help trap the pheromones there, so that we can create a strong chemical signal for other humans to pick up.
All of these are good reasons why we should not shave or wax our pubic hair. Not only does removing pubic hair interfere with a person's pheromone signaling, it also greatly increases a person's risk of developing infections, due to razor burn, ingrown hairs and increased friction during sex.
Q: How do you prevent or lessen the itchiness after shaving your pubes?
A: The pubic area is made of especially sensitive skin, so it tends to be prone to rashes, bumps, infections and ingrown hairs when shaved. The best pubic grooming practice is to not shave it at all, but to trim the hair. By shaving the hair, you're making it far more likely that you'll get rashes and infections in the region. Studies show that people who shave their pubic hair are far more likely to have genital infections and other health problems, especially women.
If you insist on shaving, then itchiness and redness are just likely to come with the territory. You can try to apply lotion afterward, but you don't want to use oil based lotions, as that can create a breeding ground for bacteria. You also don't want to use anti-itch powders, such as Goldbond and other talcum powders, because this has been linked with certain types of cancers if applied to the genitals.
Answers provided by Dr. Ross Avilla
Dr. Ross Avilla has been teaching Human Sexuality since 2013 and has a PhD in psychology from UC Davis. Dr. Avilla is not a clinician and all information and advice offered on this website is for educational purposes only.