I’m getting my first GYN exam next week. Do I have to shave down there? I heard that most people do.

Great question!

The answer to whether you ever have to shave your pubic hair is a resounding NO! Any healthcare provider who performs GYN exams has seen a wide range of genital hairstyles, and yours is not going to faze her. Although a GYN exam may feel a little awkward to you, especially the first time, it’s just a normal part of your doctor’s work day, and they are way too busy doing their job to worry about your fashion choices!

Your pubic hair is just like the hair on your head: no one but you is in charge of how to style it! Pubic hairstyles, like all trends, fluctuate based on current fashion and visibility in the media. Readily available internet porn has recently popularized a totally bare look that many young people feel they need to replicate in their personal lives. However, the expectation that young women (and increasingly, men) will spend money and time (not to mention pain!) to achieve this type of baldness is unrealistic, and unfortunately perpetuated in the media and sometimes between sexual partners.

Your body belongs only to you–that means that no one else can make these decisions for you. This goes both ways–if you DO want to remove your pubic hair, that’s your call! We do, however, recommend taking some precautions. Pubic hair creates a barrier between your sensitive bits and bacteria, and removal can cause irritation or infection if it’s not done carefully. When shaving, change razors often and use thick shaving cream, and make sure to shave in the same direction that the hair grows. If visiting a waxing salon, look for places that use fresh tools (no “double-dipping” sticks in hot wax, which spreads germs) and gloves, and ask questions about their sanitation processes.

Whatever your pubic hair care decision is, OWN IT! Your clinician won’t care, so it’s up to you what feels right.