What are pubes? All you need to know about why we have pubic hair
Everyone has hair around their intimate area. So, what are ‘pubes' and why do we have pubic hair?
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 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 pubic hair 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.
Read on to learn:
- Why we grow pubic hair
- What age pubic hair starts to grow
- The best way to remove pubic hair (if you prefer to do so)
Why do we have pubic hair?
Your pubes are there for a reason, and these little squiggly hairs are 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 been referred to as “dry lubricant” . One study even found that pubic hair may reduce your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI) .
When does pubic hair start growing?
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. 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. If wondering ‘how much pubic hair is normal for a woman’ – the answer is: it varies. All our bodies grow at different rates and in different ways, and that’s ok.
Intimate area hair removal – to trim or not to trim?
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 pubic hair removal isn’t going to affect your health. It just means a bit more time spent on maintenance.
Anything from a tidy-up to total pubic hair removal may require shaving, using intimate area hair removal cream (AKA ‘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– the same as when selecting period products Do whatever fits with your lifestyle, and what makes you feel good – even if that means no hair removal at all!
Intimate hygiene and pubic hair removal: what’s the best way to remove 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 shaving
When using a shaving razor to remove pubes, be extra careful! Even the smallest skin tear can put you, or a sexual partner, at more risk of catching an STI. Always go easy around your hard-to-reach bits and watch out for nicks or cuts.
Avoid bikini line razor bumps – here’s the best way to shave the bikini area:
- Shave with a sharp razor (newer blades will be sharper).
- Use shaving cream or gel, so the razor glides over your skin.
- Rinse the razor often while shaving, to wash away hair and prevent shaving cream build-up.
Soothe sensitivity after shaving
You might find your skin is sensitive after shaving or using intimate area hair removal cream, so try to avoid trousers that are too tight, as any friction make your V-Zone 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 to minimise the risk of further irritation to your intimate skin after hair removal, try a gentle intimate wash. It won’t mess with your vulva’s natural pH level. Try to avoid wearing trousers or pants that are too tight, as any friction on this area will make it more irritated or sore.
How to prevent ingrown hairs after waxing
Waxing is a popular for pubic hair removal because it’s quick and gives a smooth finish that can last for weeks.
It may, however, cause ingrown hairs. Don’t worry, though. These quick tips will help to prevent ingrown hairs after waxing:
- Gently exfoliate 1-2 days after waxing to remove dead skin cells.
- Moisturise the waxed area to soothe and hydrate it.
- Keep the waxed area clean and dry.
- If you get an ingrown hair, a warm compress will help bring it to the surface. But do not pick at ingrown hairs – this can lead to infection and scarring.
Get your intimate hygiene game right
From time to time, your V-Zone might get a little sweaty. A quick wash or shower will keep you feeling comfortable, especially after exercise or sex.. For situations when showering or washing are not an option (think on the go or at a music festival), intimate wipes are a useful addition to your bag.
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 all times of the month Some like a break from pubic hair removal during their period, while others enjoy having less pubic hair when menstruating, in order to feel good. Either way, the reason you have pubes is to protect your body, and what you do with it… that’s up to you!
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.