Shaving, Waxing and STDs
I’ve recently discovered a huge obsession with pubic hair in today’s world, or at least in the metropolitan city in which I live. The last three guys I dated all enjoyed meticulously grooming their bushes, and slyly pressured me to do the same. Now, you might assume that I’m simply attracted to guys who are well dressed and clean-shaven. Though I would gladly welcome a guy that fits that description, that was not the case. In fact, they all had facial hair and/or longer hair. One even had dreads. Yes, they all took great pride in their "unconventional" nature and, I admit, that was one trait I was initially attracted to. Unfortunately, a couple of them were so "alternative" that their resistance to deodorant was causing a repellent odor. Facial hair? Bring it on Body odor? I’m all natural, baby. Pubic hair? Trimmed and treated like a poodle at a dog show. They claim that by caring for their bush they are creating a less abrasive environment in which a woman can perform oral duties. Apparently they aren’t concerned when their beards scratch my face. But when it comes to pubes, they take no chances.
Of course when my boyfriend’s bush is better groomed than mine I feel a bit self-conscious. I mean, I like waxing down there. In fact, I’ve been doing it since I was in high school. And after living in a tropical beach town for a few years, it eventually became a regular style for me. I do like how it looks and feels, but I don’t want to feel like I HAVE to wax or else I’m not worthy of receiving oral pleasure. Since moving back to a city without a strong beach culture, I sometimes let my bush grow back a little"especially during cold winter months combined with a sexual dry spell. I remember having partners who could care less about their bush. What happened to those guys? Now I can only seem to find the modern day Centaur: hippie above, metro below.
In my recent frustration, I started thinking about how shaving and waxing might affect the transmission of STDs. From what I’ve read, and from my own assumptions, the more you shave and wax, the more chances you have of contracting an STD if your partner has one. Shaving and waxing can aggravate the skin, open pores, create small cuts in the skin, and cause ingrown hairs. All of this makes the skin more vulnerable to contracting diseases. Also, hair is a natural barrier of the genitals. (You hear me? It’s natural!) Much like eyelashes, it is a tool that filters dirt and bacteria from a delicate part of the body. In this case, the genitals is one part of the body that can often fall prey to the growth of unwanted bacteria and viruses. STDs like herpes and HPV, which can’t always be prevented with the use of a condom, could potentially get stuck in pubic hair and washed away before actually penetrating the skin.
Now, this is not to be confused with getting an STD from shaving or waxing. Often people ask whether it’s possible to contract herpes from getting a wax at a salon. Although I’m not certain as to the reality of that, I would guess it is highly unlikely. Knowing that the herpes virus does not live long outside of one’s body, I would doubt it could live long enough in a tub of hot wax that it could infect someone else. (But I’d really like to see someone conduct a formal study regarding this.) There may be danger if the waxer’s hands are infected, but that would be very unlikely. Just remember that you pay for what you get, and I’ve found that the cheaper the wax, the less sanitary the job. If you like to wax, you may decide it’s worth paying a bit more for a quicker, cleaner experience.
I’m not saying I am for or against the trimming and/or removal of pubic hair. I personally like to wax mine (though not all the time), but I have no problem if my partner wants to let his grow. However, I am saddened that there is so much pressure on people to change what is natural to us, especially when it leads to inconsistency, hypocrisy, and potential health complications.
What is your opinion of pubic hair and waxing/shaving?
Penelope wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Sexual Health.