How do I care for my pubic hair without giving myself a yeast infection? Is there anything I can do besides washing in the shower? I’ve noticed there are now oils and creams on the market, but I am wary based on past experience.
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There is no need for any special pubic hair care regimen. There are several pubic hair care products on the market, but all seem designed as a solution to a nonexistent problem.
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How to care or not care for pubic hair has not been studied. We know that removing pubic hair is associated with injuries — burns from hot wax, for example, or lacerations from razors. Infections from injuries or ingrown hairs can also happen. There is also data that suggests pubic hair removal may be associated with an increased risk of transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, or STIs. It is possible that the infection risk rises because the removal of pubic hair creates an easier portal of entry for some bacteria and viruses. It is also possible that pubic hair removal could change the microenvironment of the vulva in a way that reduces natural defense mechanisms. This association between pubic hair removal and STIs could also be correlation and not cause and effect. Basically, we don’t know what we don’t know.
There is no data linking pubic hair grooming of any kind with vaginal yeast infections. Remember, the vagina is inside your body and the areas of the vulva that have pubic hair are on the outside (where clothes touch the skin). The labia minora, the part of the vulva that is closest to the vaginal opening, does not have pubic hair. Biologically, it seems improbable that pubic hair care regimens or removal would contribute to vaginal yeast infections.
Could pubic hair removal contribute to vulvar yeast infections? These infections, much less common than vaginal yeast infections, produce intense external itching as well as redness of the vulva. It is possible that pubic hair removal could, through microtrauma, allow yeast that is normally on the skin to cause a vulvar yeast infection, although this hypothesis has not been studied.
Removal aside, it seems biologically implausible that how you care for your pubic hair could lead to any infection. Washing the area with a cleanser instead of soap is likely better for the skin on the vulva because soaps are drying and can raise the pH level of the skin. (The pH level of the vulvar skin is normally low.) Additionally, dryness or temporary changes in pH could lead to irritation that might be mistaken for a yeast infection.
What about oils and creams? These commercial products are all untested. If you feel your pubic hair is dry, try switching from a soap to a fragrance-free facial cleanser. You do not need a special vulvar cleanser. If you want to try a pubic hair product to see if that gives you softer hair, you can try cooking oil, such as a small amount of coconut or olive oil. These are also untested, but unlike the commercial products they have only one ingredient. If fancy products in jars spark joy for you, just be wary of any irritation; many of these products have fragrances, which could be an irritant or allergen.
Remember, pubic hair care products are highly unlikely to offer any health benefit, so be clear to yourself why you are using them — for fun or how they make you feel as opposed to treating or preventing any medical condition.
Dr. Jen Gunter, often called Twitter’s resident gynecologist, is teaming up with our editors to answer your questions about all things women’s health. From what’s normal for your anatomy to healthy sex and clearing up the truth behind strange wellness claims, Dr. Gunter, who also writes a column called The Cycle, promises to handle your questions with respect, forthrightness and honesty.