A new study has found that a majority of women in the U.S. are choosing to completely remove pubic hair around their genitals. According to a nationally representative survey of 3,316 women, researchers found that 62.1 percent were opting to go completely hairless, while 83.8 percent reported some form of grooming of their pubic hair.
The paper calls grooming "an increasingly prevalent trend," as has been noted by other research, with many women reporting to groom for sexual reasons. However, this study records a rising number of people doing so based on a health myth. The survey found 59 percent of women who groom report doing so for hygienic reasons.
"Many women think they are dirty and unclean if they haven’t groomed," the study's lead researcher Dr. Tami S. Rowen told the New York Times. It is troubling researchers because the myth is misguided. Pubic hair actually serves a hygienic purpose. It provides a cushion for a sensitive area and also helps keep bacteria from entering the vaginal opening.
"At least once a week I hear from a young woman that she thinks it’s wrong to have pubic hair, that it’s meant to be removed," said Dr. Jennifer Gunter, a specialist in pelvic pain and vulvovaginaldisorders for Kaiser Permanente Northern California.
Additionally, the Times notes that some researchers have speculated that small abrasions from grooming may aid the spread of certain sexually transmitted diseases. Though, one clinic's paper notes that the rise in waxing among both men and women coincides with a decline in the spread of pubic lice.
Ultimately, the researchers don't issue any kind of warning against grooming, but rather note that it shouldn't be done for a misguided perception that it's somehow more hygienic. "If it is something you do for you and makes you feel better, awesome," said Dr. Gunter.