Landing strip, Brazilian bare, or full-on bush: when it comes to pubic hair, every woman has her own personal preference. But does one style offer more health benefits than the others?
We’re not the only ones asking this question. A 2016 study concluded that the more hair down there, the better. Researchers surveyed more than 7,500 men and women about their pubic-hair styling habits, and they found that any type of grooming was associated with a higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes, HPV, gonorrhea, and chlamydia.
Yet one study isn’t enough to make the case that there’s a best way to do your hair down there. So we posed the question to two gynecologists.
The short answer: going au naturale is the healthiest pubic-hair policy. “Your pubic hair is there to protect the skin around your lady parts because that skin is very sensitive,” Donnica Moore, MD, a Chester, New Jersey-based gynecologist and president of Sapphire Women’s Health Group, tells Health. Dr. Moore says a thick bush acts as a buffer, protecting you from irritation or an infection when your private parts rub up against itchy or uncomfortable fabrics and surfaces, such as tight underwear or damp yoga pants.
Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of ob-gyn at Yale School of Medicine, says that there’s no reliable research making the case that one pubic style is healthier than the other. However, she says that conventional wisdom often leads gynecologists to suggest that pubic hair should remain as wild and wooly as nature intended. “There’s not much data, but it’s hypothesized that pubic hair prevents friction and keeps away dirt from your genitals,” Dr. Minkin tells Health. “We’ve evolved to have hair on our genitals for a reason.”
Still, there is one downside to sporting a thick, untamed bush: higher odds of contracting pubic lice. With so many people grooming their pubes these days, Dr. Moore says that the number of cases of pubic lice seen by doctors “has decreased tremendously.”
To get the protective benefits of a full bush without feeling like a cavewoman, opt to trim rather than shave, wax, or laser. To trim safely, Dr. Moore recommends using blunt nail clipping scissors, holding the hairs in place with a fine-tooth comb while you trim. If you do need to shave (to not feel self-conscious in a bathing suit, for example), go with the grain of the hair, use a new razor every time, and soak in warm water first to soften hair so it’s easier to cut.