Let’s all admit that body hair inspires all kinds of feelings. If you want to read about the spectacular range of feelings that having and not having body hair inspires, you can head here to our fantastic survey.
Most of us have have a love-hate relationship with it: If we don’t love it on us, we perhaps love it on our partners; while some of us are firmly attached to it, some of us go bare like a Bollywood actress in a women’s razor commercial. And some of us just don’t care.
But have you ever wondered: why do we even have body hair in the first place? What purpose is body hair supposed to serve?
Body hair might have some basic health benefits. It’s supposed to help regulate body temperature (which is why your hair stands on end and you get goosebumps when you’re cold). Some kinds of hair, like eyelashes, nostril hair and eyebrows, are meant to protect sensitive organs from foreign objects.
But what about our sex lives? Given that half the business of removing body hair is to do with being more attractive, do we know if body hair serve any purpose in our sex lives? We asked science.
More hair? More sensation?
Dr Madelleine Castellano, a doctor specialising in sex therapy who runs SexMD.com, says body hair can play a role in increasing sexual pleasure through sensation. Every hair follicle contains a nerve ending, and when you touch a hair, it sends a sensation down the shaft of the hair to that nerve ending. This nerve ending is located inside the follicle, not on the skin, so having body hair allows you to feel a whole extra range of sensation. And when you consider that you have 5 million, not to mention thick, dense public hair… oh boy.
Body hair and those mysterious pheromones
Some people suspect that the growth of hair in the underarms and groin regions are meant to trap and launch “pheromones”. Pheromones are airborne hormones that convey sexual signals in mammals. Check out this video to understand how pheromones possibly work.
However, while pheromones have been identified in several mammals, there’s no consensus on whether humans have them. But it’s possible to imagine that humans might mirror other animals in this regard, especially considering that there’s very little reason otherwise to have exceptionally thick pubic and underarm hair as humans do.
Can we please talk about pubic hair? Yes
In recent years the idea that pubic hair should not just be trimmed but be removed altogether has taken greater hold. Some people find it fun to fashion designs or alphabets into their pubic hair as a fun surprise for their partners, making it a sort of organic sex toy. Others remove their pubic hair entirely because they think it’s aesthetically appealing. Others prefer to “style” it in different ways, like the “landing strip” (and actually tons of others, if you want to check them out).
Some people choose to remove their pubic hair for slightly more serious reasons – like if they have crabs aka pubic lice. These work a bit like head lice and require strong medication to remove them.
However, it’s good to know, that other than the possibility of making sexual sensation groovier, pubic hair is a security guard. It acts as an additional barrier to the sensitive reproductive organs from bacteria and foreign particles. It also regulates moisture in the area, by “wicking it up and away from the skin”, which helps prevent yeast infections and keep the area balanced and dry. So it’s a pretty useful thing to have.
So remove or don’t remove?
While there are some reasons why we have body hair, removing it is not really that drastic. For example, the amount of body heat conserved by goosebumps is negligible in the scheme of things. And perhaps we can attract lovers in other ways than mysterious pheromones hiding in armpits and pubis, today.
There is no science to conclusively prove that body hair lessens or increases sexual pleasure on your pubis or elsewhere.
In fact, the results of the AOI Body Hair-Do You Care? survey show that the relationship between sexiness and body hair is a lot in the mind too.
Some people think removing body hair makes you cleaner, more hygienic, less smelly. But that’s not true. If you keep yourself generally clean and hygienic, body hair isn’t going to interfere with that one bit.
In other words, the choice to keep or remove body hair, is more or less personal, and influenced by culture.
What to keep in mind if you are removing body hair
There are various ways for removing body hair:
- Short term ones – waxing, shaving, threading or creaming it away, which are inexpensive and can be done by yourself or by a beautician.
- Long term ones – electrolysis, which removes individual hairs using heat or chemical energy, or laser hair removal, where the hair follicle is pulsed with laser light, remove hair permanently. These are fairly expensive methods and can only be performed by doctors.
So if you’re removing hair keep this in mind:
-If you shave: Use a sharp fresh razor, never a blunt or rusted one, because they cut into your skin easily and could leave you with serious infections. Shave in the same direction that the hair grows to avoid painful ingrown hairs or infections.
– If you wax: Always test the wax on a small part of your arm before really go for it to make sure there’s no allergic or irritating reaction. If you’re waxing yourself, make sure you don’t burn your skin with hot wax. If you choose to get it done professionally, make sure the implements are clean and hygienic and cloth waxing strips are not musty.
Whatever you do, being safe, being informed, and being sure it’s what you want are the rules that always seem to work smoothly!