SEXUAL HEALTH: A hairy situation

Dr Joachim Osur handles a couple who are having a fight over a Brazilian wax.

Friday March 25 2016

Social and developmental psychology researchers

Social and developmental psychology researchers have concluded that some cases of shaving could signify a desire to go back to childhood, i.e. a discomfort with sexual maturity. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOACHIM OSUR
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Mary left her house on Saturday morning with her pubic hair intact. She came back home at 6pm with a clean-shaven pubis. What followed was an argument between her and her husband, Joseph.

She packed her clothes and left to seek refuge in their best couple’s house. They spent all of Sunday arguing via text message. After a whole day of this, they agreed to meet at the sexology clinic for counselling.

And so they were my first clients on Monday morning, where Joseph explained that he suspected Mary had been cheating on him. “Tell me doctor, who in his right senses goes shaving another man’s wife’s pubic hair unless they have a hidden agenda?”

Joseph asked. In fact, he said, a bushy pelvis was a source of pleasure for him and he could not understand who the wife was trying to please by chopping it off.

MIXED REACTIONS

Mary, on the other hand, referred to Joseph as primitive an unexposed. “Which modern man cherishes a bushy, dirty pubis?” she asked. “Tell him to visit hair salons and see women queuing for the shave before he makes his outrageous allegations.”

All her friends had told her that their husbands liked them clean-shaven. They were all going to salons to have their pubic hair waxed off. She was upset that her husband could even imagine that she was having an affair.

“Waxing is painful but I withstood it for his sake. I wanted to please him. I am so disappointed at his reaction,” she said.

Well, women around the world are divided on the practice of pelvic hair shaving, even though up to 75 per cent of American, 60 per cent of Australian and 50 per cent of British women do it at some point.

Younger women shave more than older ones, with most abandoning it after the age of 50. Among those who do it, almost all use a razor; a much smaller number wax or use electrolysis.

Although 90 per cent or more shave themselves, more women are going to professionals for hair removal services.

Historically, people have not always shaved the pubic hair. In the 15th century, it was stigmatised to shave one’s pubis, as it was only done when invaded by pubic lice or syphilis.

Later in Egypt, the Roman empire and Greece, shaving became fashionable among women of class. Only slaves and poor people grew a bush between their legs.

A revolution occurred in our time after porn actors, models and celebrities from Brazil displayed their nudity with a shaven pelvis. And that was when a hair-free pubis became fashionable.

Today those who shave say that they do it for hygiene. Others say that it is fashionable, especially given the diminishing sizes of lingerie that they have to live with. For others it is necessary for the diversity of sexual adventures that they explore.

Social and developmental psychology researchers have concluded that some cases of shaving could signify a desire to go back to childhood, i.e. a discomfort with sexual maturity.

Others say that while pubic hair growth signifies biological maturity, shaving it passes a message that social maturity has set in and one is ready to embrace duties that go with it.

“Very interesting, doctor. I just wonder why my wife chose to do it,” Joseph interrupted.  Men’s responses to this fad have been mixed.

While some support and even take the initiative to do the shaving themselves, others like Joseph go crazy when shaving is done. Those who oppose it say that the hair stimulates them sexually.

“By the way it does, and for me, it is the signal that I am nearing the pot of gold whenever things are happening in darkness,” Joseph said. 

GATEKEEPING FUNCTION

Biologically, pubic and armpit hairs form part of a pheromone system. Pheromones are chemicals that attract the opposite sex for mating purposes. While some of the pheromones bear an obvious smell, others do not but still attract a complementary partner

subconsciously through a natural selection process. Further, pubic hair is thought to be a gatekeeper, preventing dirt from entering the vagina, the same way eye lashes protect the eyes.

During sex, pubic hair prevents skin to skin friction. In the absence of the hair, skin abrasions and blisters can happen during vigorous sex. Pubic hair is also thought to maintain warmth around the vaginal area.

Warmth is an important stimulator during sex.

As one shaves, it is important to be conscious of the injuries that have become commonplace with this practice. Accidental cuts do happen and sometimes they are severe, warranting hospital care.

There have also been cases of infections happening after the shave when bacteria enter the invisible cuts on the skin inflicted during the process.

All said and done, the choice to shave or not lies with the woman. As Mary and Joseph left the clinic holding hands, I was not sure which direction they had chosen to take.

What was clear was that they were back together, albeit minus Mary’s pubic hair, a great sexual attraction for Joseph.

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