Whether you're team wax, team shave, team trim or team au naturale, we all have pretty strong opinions on what we want our pubic hair to look like. And it definitely follows trends — after a time when getting rid of pubic hair was all the rage, now it looks like the bush is back for a while.
And while scientists disagree on why, exactly, we have pubic hair, women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D. says that most will agree that it helps trap and spread pheromones, i.e., sex hormones.
While you're certainly free to take care of your lady-stache however you darn well please, know that there are some health risks involved with certain grooming habits. And know that no matter what you choose to do with your pubes, they can still give you a surprising amount of insight into your general physical health.
Continue ahead to see what your pubic hair reveals about your health.
If the hot flashes and irregular periods didn't tip you off, your pubic hair could be the big red flag letting you know you're going through menopause.
Just like normal hair on your head, your pubic hair will change as you age, meaning it will gray as part of the "normal aging process" according to Dr. Raquel Dardik, MD, gynecologist at the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women's Health at NYU Langone Medical Center. Dardik told Prevention that "after menopause there's a decrease in regrowth of overall body hair," so you'll start to notice less of it once you hit menopause.
If your grooming method of choice is shaving or waxing, beware of the ingrown hair! While you may think waxing is the better option between the two, there's actually not much difference — aside from the fact that hair will grow back faster after shaving. Because pubic hair grows at an angle, neither shaving nor waxing can fully extract the hair.
So those raised, red bumps that pop up after grooming along your bikini line or even on your genitals? Those are ingrown hairs, which while harmless, can be unsightly and a tad uncomfortable. To get rid of them, board-certified gynecologist Dr. Jeff Donovan says soak a washcloth in warm water, then press it against the ingrown hair for three minutes, bringing the hair up to your skin's surface. Use a sterilized tweezer or needle to work the hair out. Don't completely pluck it out — just try to remove the embedded end.
To prevent getting them in the first place, exfoliate your skin before shaving to remove any dead skin cells that might trap the coarse, thick hair.
While shaving your pubic hair isn't an automatic guarantee that you'll get a viral infection, it does put you at a slightly higher risk. Epidermal abrasion from shaving and waxing makes skin extra vulnerable to micro trauma, which presents excellent opportunities for pesky infections to penetrate and infect you. That means anything from the pox virus Molluscum contagiosum (MCV) to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) could worm their way in.
Although, women with full pubic hair are not totally safe in this category, either. While it's pretty rare, if you have too much pubic hair, Dr. Wider says it’s possible that it could trap bacteria and lead to an infection. However, as long as you’re keeping yourself clean (using gentle soap and warm water) it shouldn’t be an issue.
Welcome to the wonderful world of womanhood, where the slightest change in hormone levels could throw your body into a completely chaotic state. If you've noticed more hair down there than usual, it could be due to some wacky hormone changes going on in your body.
Cheryl Iglesia, MD, chair of patient education at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, tells Prevention that ovarian or adrenal glad tumors that secrete testosterone could be causing excess hair growth, and that it could be time to get your hormones checked out by your doctor.
Iglesia says that your pubic area won't be the only place exhibiting symptoms, however. Your chin and sideburns could be experiencing excess hair growth, while the hair on your head could be thinning, you could be experiencing an out-of-character acne breakout, and your voice could even be deeper than usual.
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