Grooming pubic hair is a very personal choice that can be influenced by many factors such as trends, gender, age, time period and more. In addition, pubic hair can erode a person’s self-esteem, with previous research suggesting that participation in this grooming is associated with higher genital satisfaction in women.
Another relevant factor is that removing pubic hair can have health implications, such as removing hair to prevent pubic lice or skin irritation from waxing or shaving. Most research on pubic grooming habits has focused on women, and this study attempts to expand the body of literature by including men.
For their study, Rebecca Deans and colleagues used 1,560 young adult participants to serve as a sample. All participants were between the ages of 18 and 25. Data was collected for two cohorts of similar age, taking place in 2014 and again in 2021. Participants were recruited through university and social media platforms.
Participants completed measures of demographic information, lifetime sexual partners, STD history, current genital hair removal techniques, preferences for the appearance of genital hair, history of cosmetic procedures, details of sexual activity, and pubic hair grooming attitudes and behaviors in the past year. Male participants in cohort 2 in 2021 only measured their own grooming habits.
The results showed that a majority of both male and female participants groomed their public hair, with 69.4% of the total sample reporting engaging in grooming behaviors. “Traditionally, men have not engaged in hair removal behaviors because the presence of body hair has been considered masculine, attractive and virile. More recently, however, it appears that men’s hairless physicality has been embraced, perhaps because exposure to pornography has increased and opportunities to have sex using dating software applications have increased,” the researchers wrote.
Women’s pubic grooming differed dramatically between the 2014 and 2021 samples, with 70.3% of the former and only 29.3% of the latter reporting engaging in pubic grooming. In addition, the 2014 female participants reported much more satisfaction with their genital appearance than the 2021 sample.
The most popular reasons for grooming the pubic hair were religion, seeing a doctor, preferring a neater or cleaner look, and relief from discomfort. Both sexes reported greater comfort during oral sex when there was less or no pubic hair. Women who reported grooming their pubic hair viewed pornography more often and were more likely to consider cosmetic surgery or Botox.
“Moreover, we found a connection between [pubic hair grooming] and participants feel confident about the appearance of their genitals as a result of [pubic hair grooming] behavior and improved sexual activity. Therefore, there may be a positive correlation between how a groomer feels about the appearance of their genitals and their [pubic hair grooming] behavior,” the researchers wrote.
This study has taken interesting steps to better understand how pubic grooming habits are influenced by a variety of factors. Nevertheless, there are limitations to note. First, there are no data on men’s grooming habits in 2014, so we have no way of knowing whether the trends observed for women were gender specific or not. In addition, this study included only English-speaking 18-25 year olds; future research could use a more diverse sample.
The study, “Attitudes and Practices Associated with Pubic Hair Grooming: A Cross-Sectional Study,” is authored by Rebecca Deans, Cathy Kexin Cui, Catherine Tam, Ana Beatrice L. Coronel, Gabriela Rosa, and Brigitte Gerstl.