Why do we have pubic hair? What is its purpose? The answer? We don’t really know. Here are some leading pubic hair theories and why it evolved in the first place, in no particular order:
In the primitive time of limited clothing, pubic hair could have served as protection for the delicate skin of the vulva. It may have helped to trap dirt and debris, preventing them from getting inside the vagina.
Before the invention of lube, it may have helped to enhance lubrication – both with walking and moving around but also during sex. Hair on hair movement is usually more slippery than skin on skin action. Pubic hair may have facilitated sex by lubricating the area and reducing friction which then protects the skin.
Pheromones are unique chemical secreted by animals (and yes, people are animals) that help attract mates. It’s thought of as a natural aphrodisiac. One theory is that pubic hair evolved as a way to make pheromones stronger and therefore encourage breeding and repopulation.
This goes along with pheromones but takes it one step further. The scent trapped in the pubic hair (and underarm hair) makes it easier for both mates to identify each other and also offspring to identify their parents. This theory is particularly interesting when it comes to pregnancy and having a newborn baby – the aversion to anything perfumed or strongly scented can be overwhelming, possibly to avoid covering up the body’s natural scent.
It’s theorized that perhaps it helps maintain the vulvar skin microbiome and reduce infections.
Pubic hair, with its texture and color, distinguishes the genitals from surrounding skin, drawing attention to the area. A primitive version of a neon flashing “right here” sign.
Signs of puberty
Do we need another sign besides breasts forming and menstrual cycle starting? Pubic hair seems to be a by-product of hormonal changes and not an indicator of them, but it’s worth mentioning as just one more sign that a young person was beginning their transition into adulthood.
One note for all these – remember that these are theories only!
Studies have looked at pubic hair removal in this context. Besides the potential risks of the hair removal technique itself, removing pubic hair doesn’t seem to affect sexual satisfaction or lubrication, odor or scents, infections or alteration of vaginal microbiome. These theories are just for fun, not to suggest that removing pubic hair is bad. You do you.
I am a board certified OBGYN at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles.
I am co-founder of Female Health Education, a platform offering digital courses, striving to empower females through health education.
My passion is promoting and demystifying health information to the public. My blog, Dr. Sara Twogood’s LadyParts Blog, provides comprehensive information about fertility, pregnancy, and gynecology topics. I am on the medical board for the period tracker app Flo; contribute as a medical expert for pregnancy app and website The Bump; and serve on the Byrdie Beauty and Wellness Review Board (Byrdie.com). I have been featured as an expert for the podcasts The Dream and Her body, Her Story and quoted in numerous online and print publications.
I am honored to be named “Top Doctor” in Los Angeles magazine for years.