What You Should Know…Shaving “Down There”
After years in practice and doing many female exams, I have begun to see some patterns that I want to share with you. I will start by saying this blog may test your comfort limits but this is a subject that should be talked about.
First things first, it has become very “cool” or “in” to shave the pubic hair. Some woman shave it all and some only shave a bit, but I have witnessed a lot of shaving in recent years. The females that shave are often young 20 and 30 year olds and teenagers. I am not sure how the trend started, but I want to share with you the conversation that I have with girls in my office who are consistently shaving. Many of the girls who are shaving all of their hair off are having trouble with recurrent vaginal yeast infections or bacterial vaginitis. To clear both of these conditions up for those who don’t know, yeast infections and bacterial vaginitis are not sexually transmitted diseases. They both occur when the normal flora (healthy bacteria and yeast) of the vaginal tract gets off balance and then infection begins.
Symptoms of vaginitis include but are not limited to discharge, odor, and/or itching. Often vaginitis can be easily treated, but sometimes it can become a chronic problem for girls.
Pubic hair suits a purpose, a very important purpose. The hair provides a small pocket between the skin and the underwear that allows a small amount of air flow. The air flow is healthy and helps to ward off excess moisture. When the pubic hair is shaved entirely, it allows the underwear to rest flat on the skin, limiting air flow and promoting moisture which can often lead to vaginal infections. Bacteria and yeast thrive in moist environments and their growth is promoted by warmth and moisture. You can imagine that shaving all pubic hair off and wearing tight underwear and clothing daily will lead to a warm, moist vaginal area – leaving a woman potentially susceptible to infection.
Of note, the type of underwear and clothing a girl wears is also important. Synthetic fabrics trap in moisture. Cotton underwear and clothing are often healthier for those prone to vaginal infections because they don’t trap in moisture as much. This point is usually known by my patients, but the air flow and shaving point is not understood widely quite yet. Work out clothes have become mainstay for many women and are often worn all day. Wearing tight workout pants for many hours daily while shaving all pubic hair will increase a woman’s chance of getting a yeast infection.
I am not saying that women can’t shave, I am saying that women who shave should take other precautions to make sure that moisture isn’t trapped and that good air flow occurs around the pubic area. If a woman shaves 100 % of her public hair, it is my opinion that she should not wear underwear (most of the time). Obviously there are some outfits that warrant underwear use, but then women should make sure they don’t wear underwear more than a couple days in a row or they don’t wear underwear to bed.
I have offered this suggestion for a few years now in my practice and it really has made a difference in my women who used to have chronic yeast infections.
Shaving “Down There”
1. If you shave only the bikini line, you are not at any more risk for infection than other women who don’t shave at all.
2. If you shave all pubic hair and are wearing tight clothing and underwear, you are most likely at higher risk for developing vaginal infections.
3. If you shave all pubic hair, then you should avoid wearing underwear most of the time to allow for good air flow to the pubic area.
4. Don’t shave all pubic hair and wear underwear, leggings, and tight work out clothes daily.
5. If you have chronic yeast infections, try not wearing underwear to bed and limiting underwear use in the day. Make sure to always wear cotton underwear instead of any synthetic fabrics. Get treatment for any vaginal infection.