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Stop Shaving and Leave the Bush Alone!

With the inception of civilization, there was a worldwide declaration of deadly war on pubic hair or so it seems. But one wonders, of all the things, why, surely, pick on the lowly hair? A few sociological theories suggest all this has to do with cultural trends spawned by bikinis and thongs, certain hairless actors and actresses or a desire to return to childhood or even a misguided attempt at hygiene.

Interestingly, no matter how expensive or complex the weapons used is this war are – razor blades, electric shavers, tweezers, waxing, hair remover gels – hair, like grass, always grows back and eventually wins! In the meantime, the skin suffers the devastating effects of the scorched battlefield.

We all know and experience the fact that removal of pubic hair irritates and inflames the hair follicles left behind, leaving microscopic open wounds. But do we ever learn? When that irritation is combined with the warm, moist environment around genitals, it becomes a happy culture medium for some of the nastiest of bacterial pathogens.

Some clinicians are finding that freshly shaved pubic areas and genitals are also more vulnerable to infections due to the microscopic wounds being exposed to viruses carried by mouth or genitals. Importance of pubic hair can never be gainsaid; it provides a cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasion and injury, protection from bacteria and other unwanted pathogens, and is the visible result of long-awaited adolescent hormones, certainly nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.

Meanwhile, if some of the studies that researchers, especially scientists, carry out are anything to go by, then, clearly, it could be true that they are the idlest individuals on this planet. In what could perhaps give credence to the adage, “an idle brain is the devil’s workshop”, some researchers in the US went out to study — and compiled a report on — the state of American women’s pubic areas and the related health implications.

Among the many discoveries the scholars made, most American women, especially the younger ones, don’t like it bushy down there. In fact, a good number of them prefer keeping it bald! However, despite the fact that most women like grooming their pubic hair, the practice poses some risks, most often related to shaving injuries.

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The University of California’s research team studied the privates of 3,316 women, aged 18-65. The scholars found out that nearly 84 percent of them regularly groom. “This novel data source reflects just how prevalent is the practice of personal grooming,” said senior author Benjamin Breyer, MD, an associate professor. “We believe grooming practices are also associated with personal injury and potentially sexually transmitted infection. We’re analyzing these associations in the hope of finding risk factors that can be modified such as instrument use.”

The study, believed to be the first to focus on the trend in a nationally representative sample, was unique in assessing the role of the partner in grooming. They, for instance, discovered that a woman was far more likely to groom based on her partner’s preference. Additionally, the researchers learned that women groom for social events, including sex and vacations, but also when visiting a health care professional.

“Our study is important for health care professionals because grooming behaviors reflect cultural norms and it shows that women have diverse motivations that are not universal,” Breyer said, in the study that was published on June 29, 2016 in JAMA Dermatology. Breyer’s previous research has shown that waxing, shaving or clipping pubic hair can raise the risk of genitourinary injuries, the most common being lacerations, with some resulting in emergency department visits.

“The prevalence of pubic hair grooming in women is substantial in the 21st century,” said lead author Tami Rowen, MD, a an assistant professor at the university. “What is most apparent from the study is that women are grooming based on numerous external pressures that have likely increased over the last decade,” she said. The researchers found striking demographic differences in the study. Younger women are more likely to groom, especially compared to women above age 55.

Also, women with some college education or a bachelor’s degree were more likely to groom. Race was also associated with grooming: Compared to white women, all other racial groups reported less grooming. The researchers found no association between grooming and income or where groomers lived. Women who were widowed, separated, or single were less likely to groom, but there was no difference in the percentage of married women who reported grooming.

Other highlights included; nearly 52 percent of female groomers were married compared to 21 percent who had never married and 8.5 percent who were living with a partner; nonelectric razors were the choice for 61 percent of groomers, while scissors were used by 17.5 percent, and electric razors were used by 12 percent. 46 percent of women reported that grooming made them feel “hygienic or cleaner”; 31 percent said grooming makes their “vagina look nicer” and another 20 percent said shaving makes oral sex easier.

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