Hygiene may be the least vain justification for ripping hairs off of your mons pubis, but it's not doctor recommended. Since getting Brazilian bikini waxes, which remove the entire patch of pubic hair from ones vagina, is an unnatural thing to do, women cite various reasons for the painful and expensive practice, as Ashley Fetters explains in her lengthy piece on the phenomenon over at The Atlantic. 60 percent of American women between 18 and 24 are sometimes or always completely bare down there not just because it's sexy, or the porn stars made it cool, or cultural non-acceptance of body hair, but because it's cleaner. "I work out a lot. I get sweaty," regular waxer Sophia Pinto told Fetters. "And it starts to smell when you've got hair down there. So yeah, it hurts, but I just feel so much cleaner." But is it really cleaner?
There's a difference between odor and cleanliness. Pinto and the like are referring to the at times unpleasant aroma of ones nether regions. But a smelly vagina doesn't mean a dirty vagina. In fact, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say that a clean vagina will have a mild stench, which is a why they do not recommend douching.
As for hygiene, Dr. Emily Gibson argues over at the medical blog KevinMD that this type of hair removal opens up female genitalia to all sorts of nasty sounding infections.
Pubic hair removal naturally irritates and inflames the hair follicles left behind, leaving microscopic open wounds. Rather than suffering a comparison to a bristle brush, frequent hair removal is necessary to stay smooth, causing regular irritation of the shaved or waxed area. When that irritation is combined with the warm moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy culture media for some of the nastiest of bacterial pathogens, namely group A streptococcus, staphylococcus aureus and its recently mutated cousin methicillin resistant staph aureus (MRSA). There is an increase in staph boils and abscesses, necessitating incisions to drain the infection, resulting in scarring that can be significant. It is not at all unusual to find pustules and other hair follicle inflammation papules on shaved genitals.
Not to mention, greater vulnerability to herpes and other STIs, cellulitis, and abrasions -- all just from waxing. There can also be more extreme complications. One diabetic woman went to the hospital with herpes and a bacterial infection after a Brazilian, leading researchers to believe that women with weak immune systems open the body up to greater chance of infection after a wax.
Scientists don't actually know why humans have hair down there in the first place, according to Fetters. "Some think it's to help trap pheromones, which connects us subconsciously to people we're attracted to; others, meanwhile, think it's simply there to keep our precious cargo warm enough for successful reproduction," she writes. But it's clearly not like the appendix: We need it.*
This post originally stated humans do not need their spleens.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.