All About Pubic Hair: It’s Time to Free “The Bush”

People have super strong opinions on pubic hair. 

Particularly, there’s a lot of judgement against people who choose to go au naturale and grow what our culture has lovingly called “a bush.”

But not everyone finds pubes disgusting. There are plenty of people who wear their long downstairs hairstyles loud and proud. And there are people who are more than willing to spend time with them...stroke them, smell them, lick them…. And there’s a name for that.

What is pubephilia?

Being into pubes is actually its own fetish. It’s called pubephilia, and it’s—you guessed it—getting turned on by seeing or thinking of pubic hair.

It’s a type of hair fetishism, also called trichophilia. This fetish can involve all types of hair, including head hair, armpit hair, chest hair, or even fur. People can have a preference for color, texture, and hair length, too.

There’s a good scientific reason that people might like pubic hair. We’re sure you’ve noticed that the hair under the armpits and around the genitals is thicker. This is probably because this hair releases pheromones, which are chemicals that make humans want to get it on.

Some people notice the smell of pheromones consciously, while others might be influenced by them but not know it. Pheromones are part of the reason that many men enjoy buying used underwear, too.

Despite involving something natural that grows on humans every single day, there’s a stigma about liking pubes or even just having them at all. Our society sees pubes as super gross, and there are many people who will stop at nothing to get rid of them. 

When did our society start hating long pubic hair? When did being completely hairless become the norm?

The ancient history of pubic hair

People have been removing their pubic hair for a very long time. The ancient Egyptians thought pubic hair was “uncivilized” and removed it with razors made of flint or bronze. They also used a method called sugaring, which is still something you can get at the waxing salon today.

The ancient Greeks weren’t into pubes, either, but they removed each hair individually with tweezers or even burned it off, which sounds even worse than a Brazillian, tbh. 

In the Middle Ages, it became more common to keep a full bush. However, some women used a depilatory cream, which is what Nair is. (Do you think it smelled as bad?) Queen Elizabeth I didn’t remove her pubic hair, which set the fashion for a long time.

The modern history of pubic hair

Razors weren’t marketed to women in the U.S. until 1915. Isn’t that crazy? Hair removal for women is such an intense part of our culture, but we’ve barely been doing it for 100 years. 

Gilette introduced this razor because they realized they could make double the money if they marketed to women as well as men. It’s a smart, if kind of evil, business move. They targeted armpit and leg hair in ads, saying they were “unhygienic and unfeminine.” Add to that a nylon shortage from the war, and the razors started flying off the shelves.

The first bikini was created in 1946, but it took a while to catch on due to modesty concerns. It made a pretty big splash, and people needed to see it normalized by celebrities before they would even entertain wearing it. Once women started wearing bikinis more often, they started  grooming down there to avoid any slips at the beach. This is when the idea of removing some or all of your pubic hair was introduced.

Things took a turn in the 60s and 70s. The ideas of sexual liberation and growing body hair got tied together. This created the term “seventies bush.” Women sort of disregarded the idea that they needed to shave, since it wasn’t part of the culture anymore. If a bush was sexy, why would they spend so much time and energy getting rid of it?

In the 80s and most of the 90s, just trimming your pubes was enough. Porn still included women with pubic hair. Most people were freaked out by women being completely hairless, regarding this as a fetish.

Then in 1999, Brazillians started gaining popularity. Gwenyth Paltrow endorsed it. (She lurks in the background of most dubious cultural movements.) What actually pushed it over the edge was a Sex and the City episode called “Sex and Another City,” where Carrie feels naked after getting the wax. She utters the now famous line, “I feel like one of those freaking hairless dogs!”

After that, there was no stopping the hairless trend. Celebrity women boast about their hairless muffs, and you have to go out of your way to find any pubic hair in porn. Nowadays, many women think it’s basically expected of them, and many men think any pubic hair is dirty and gross. People don’t necessarily go around talking about their pubic hair, though.

Pubic hair statistics

Okay, so what percent of people alter their pubic hair?

A Cosmo survey of people 18-35 found that 92% of people undertake some sort of pubic grooming. 57% of women said they went completely bare, while the majority of men (69%) said they just trimmed things up a little. Men also spent much less on grooming products than women did, and had stronger opinions about their partner’s hair down there.

A different survey of women 18-24 found that two thirds of participants had totally or partially removed their pubic hair in the past month. One fifth of these women had been hairless for the entire period.

Pubes and porn

Many people figure that a lack of pubic hair has become more fashionable at least partially due to the rise of internet porn. Although there’s no definitive link—meaning no one’s ever done some sort of study on it—it seems likely.

In the 70s, it was totally normal to see porn that featured women with a full bush. However, this was when you could only get porn in shady magazines you pick up at a gas station. It wasn’t as widely consumed and there weren’t as many people producing it.

Going bare in porn has utilitarian reasons. In the 80s, hair was sometimes removed because people were concerned about STIs, especially given the rise of HIV and AIDS. Recently, porn producers have argued that performers need to be hairless to show as much of their genitals as possible. Waxing lets you see a woman’s clit and labia better, and removing hair on a man can make his dick look larger.

But porn is also responding to demand. Women being hairless is no longer the fetish; it’s the norm. Most men are grossed out by pubic hair on a woman, and definitely wouldn’t watch porn that included it.

There has been a little bit of change in recent years. Women are starting to grow a little of pubic hair. They usually remove it around their genitals and leave some hair on their pubic mound. This is an interesting style, and stars cite the fact that it makes them look mature while still being able to see their genitals better. However, porn stars say that they know they wouldn’t get jobs if they had a full bush.

Some say that pubes are becoming a little more popular in porn because they’re considered more feminist and empowering. There was a boom around 2013-2015 where celebrities like Amber Rose and Gwenyth Paltrow talked about or showed their bushes. (Yes, Gwenyth did a full 180. Again, why are we not surprised?)

Aesthetically, people have preferences. That’s totally normal. But is it true that pubes are dirty?

Isn’t it cleaner to remove it?

About half of women say they remove their pubic hair for cleanliness reasons, but the stereotype that pubes are dirty is incorrect. People who don’t shave their pubes are no less hygienic than people who do. It’s just hair, which you have all over your body. Plus, it’s not just that it’s clean; it can help you get a leg up on lots of health issues.

Your pubic hair grows for a reason. Humans have been evolving for millions of years to get you to where you are today. Evolution wanted you to leave your pubes alone.

Pubic hair serves several important purposes. The main one might be to attract mates using pheromones, which could be more powerful than you think. But even if you’re not sure your partner is into that, there are health reasons to let your pubic hair fly free.

Pubic hair actually decreases your chances of getting an STI. Bacteria or viruses can get caught in your pubes before they’re able to touch your skin or genitals. If you shower regularly, you might be able to contain the issue. 

People who have removed their pubic hair even once during their lives are nearly twice as likely to contract an STI. People who remove their hair more than 11 times a year are four times more likely to get an infection. People who groom a lot are especially more likely to contract STIs that are associated with the skin, like HPV or syphilis. 

One note, though: you’re definitely less likely to get pubic lice (aka crabs) if you remove all of your pubic hair. The hair is where the lice live, so if there’s nowhere for them to go, you won’t have that issue. But pubic lice aren’t actually harmful in any way, and they’re easy to get rid of. Mostly, you’ll just experience some itching and have to take a visit to the doctor or a local Planned Parenthood clinic.

A reduced risk of STIs isn’t all pubic hair can offer you. Your pubic hair basically acts as a safety net for your vagina. It collects various particles and keeps them from coming into contact with the skin. Your chances of just developing a regular infection are less.

If you don’t shave your pubic hair, you don’t have to worry about the ways it can damage your skin. First, shaving can cause painful razor burn and ingrown hairs. 60% of women who removed their hair reported ingrown hairs and general discomfort. In addition, shaving causes micro cuts. These micro cuts can become infected and produce abscesses. 

Plus, grooming your pubic hair can just go super wrong. From 2002 to 2010, there were an estimated 11,704 incidents where patients went to the hospital due to pubic grooming. The statistic doesn’t really say what went wrong, exactly, but we’re positive we’d rather avoid being part of that statistic, thank you very much.

Removing pubic hair can actually cause more problems than it solves. The idea that it’s cleaner has been thoroughly debunked.

The cost of pubic hair removal

Here’s another downside to removing your pubic hair: it costs a ton of money and time.

Most women (55%) say they spend between $1-$20 a month on hair removal supplies, according to a Cosmo survey. By comparison, 67% of men say they spend nothing at all.

This estimate on spending seems rather low, actually. Sure, you could probably spend this much if you just use razors and shaving cream. But there’s also moisturizer, exfoliating scrub, and treatment for any cuts or ingrown hairs. And that’s just if you shave.

If you wax, you’ll be spending much more. A Brazillian wax can cost as little as $20 at a nail salon, but you might get what you pay for. Going to a day spa or waxing salon will usually run you between $50-$120. And you’re usually expected to go once a month to keep the hair from growing back.

The nuclear option is to get laser hair removal on your pubic hair. As you can guess, this isn’t cheap. Most clients need six to eight treatments for complete hair removal, and it’s imperative you attend every session. No skipping.

Each session can cost anywhere from $50-$300. This means that a hairless cooch could cost you up to $2,400. That sounds crazy, but it’s actually the same as 20 waxing treatments at an expensive salon. Yikes.

Pubic hair as a fetish

We touched on pubic hair as a fetish a little bit earlier, but let’s explore that.

There are two types of fetishes that involve pubic hair. The first is getting aroused by people who leave it natural. The second is the arousal when the person gets rid of it.

The first is called a depilation fetish. This can mean that you get turned on by looking at genitalia without any hair, but it can also mean that you get turned on by the hair removal process. Depilation fetishes can involve any part of the body, but let’s focus on those involving pubic hair.

One way that this can manifest is removing someone’s pubic hair for them. This involves a fair amount of trust, because there are often scissors or razors close to your junk. It can be a very intimate experience. Some people also like the feel and smell of shaving cream.

Removing someone else’s pubic hair can be a part of BDSM, because masters often like to shave their slaves. This puts the slave in the psychological role of submission, exposure, humiliation, and shame. It’s also possible that some BDSM practitioners wax their sub’s genitals. If you’re gonna wax it, why not get off during the process?

Then there’s pubephilia, the fetish where you’re into pubic hair. This could be how it looks, how it feels, how it smells, or all of the above!

Many people who are into pubic hair talk about how women who shave down there look like young girls. While admittedly young girls don’t naturally grow pubic hair and most older women do, it kind of implies that anyone into depilation or who just likes a hairless pussy is somehow a pedophile. When sex is between consenting adults, this just isn’t the case.

But lots of people (mostly men) are into the full bush or a trimmed look instead of shaved or waxed. 

In a column for Your Tango, a man with the pseudonym wrote, “Ladies, let your pubic hair grow. Allow it to run riot like a wild, verdant jungle. Shave not your delicate triangle of womanly power. Not all dudes demand a shorn 'gina.”

On Reddit, a man made a thread called “I miss women with pubic hair.” He wrote, “As a guy in his mid 30's, I've seen the decline of pubic hair and I don't like it. I like like women to look ‘womanly.’” 

Another user commented, “The women that really catch my eye in porn are women with huge bushes, like not even trimmed - hair that moves out beyond her lips and crawls onto her legs...god, it's so fucking awesome.”

There’s one more fun fetishy part of pubephilia. Have you ever heard of a merkin?

Marvelous merkins

Merkins are a funny name for pubic wigs worn by people with vaginas. They’ve entered the fetish world, and let women have the best of both worlds if they and their partner have different opinions about shaving.

If you’ve never seen one, you should Google it. They come in all shapes and sizes and are honestly really cute.

So how did we get these charming little toupees? The merkin dates back to 1450. It was invented for medical and sanitary reasons, because if you got crabs or pubic lice, the only real treatment back then was to shave off your whole bush. Since this wasn’t in fashion back then, the merkin was born.

Merkins were also used by sex workers. These hairpieces allowed them to cover up marks created by STIs like syphilis. If they had the disease, clients wouldn’t work with them, and if they had no work, they couldn’t make enough money to survive. So the merkin was a lifesaver for them, even if they contributed to the spread of disease.

Nowadays, merkins are used by actresses, usually when they’re playing a role in a period piece. Since the fashion is to have your pussy shaved, these actresses need to use a merkin to make their vag look believable for the time. Lots of these actresses joke about how big their merkins are in interviews, but hey, don’t pube shame, ladies.

Now, people have a fetish for merkins. It doesn’t seem super common, but some people are turned on by wearing them or seeing them, and you can buy a ton of different options from one particular seller on Amazon. There’s a pink cat, a pride rainbow heart, and even a black furry cross.

Peruse at your leisure. You’re welcome.

Does your partner’s opinion matter?

Lots of men ask their girlfriends to alter their pubic hair.

A Cosmo survey found that 40% of men have asked their partner to change their hair down there, and 23% of women said they had made the same request. 

Should people tolerate their partner’s input on your pubes like that?

If your partner asked you to lose weight, you’d (hopefully) throw all of their stuff out onto the front lawn. If they asked you to get a nose job, it’s probably a good idea to set it on fire, too. Feminism has at least got us this far.

But many people think requesting that someone change their pubic hair is a totally normal thing to do. Maybe it’s because it’s not a permanent change; it’ll grow back quickly and easily. Or maybe people think they have some right to an opinion, since that area is involved in the mutual activity of sexy times.

Your reaction probably depends on how attached you are to your current pube choice. Some people don’t have a strong preference. In this case, someone might even ask their partner what they like, and just do that. That’s totally valid.

If you and your partner are into exploring kink, this could also be a valid request. Asking your boundaries about pubic hair is totally cool, and the best part about a kink relationship is that it allows you to negotiate. Maybe you don’t want to grow out a full bush, but you’re okay with having some hair. If this isn’t a hard no for you, it’s worth considering changing up your lady garden.

However, if your skin reacts very badly to shaving or you simply don’t like doing it, it’s not reasonable for your partner to ask you to change your routine for them. If they care about you, they’ll just have to get over it.

In the same Cosmo survey, 30% of men and 19% of women said that they might reconsider dating someone based on their pubic hair. This is a little sad—friendly reminder: it’s just hair—but people can stop dating each other for any reason.

You shouldn’t make a change in your life that you don’t want to make just in an attempt to keep a partner. If everything else were perfect in your relationship, they probably wouldn’t leave over something so small. Don’t let someone give you an ultimatum or try to manipulate you into doing anything with your body that you’re not comfortable with.

Your body, your choice

Pubic hair isn’t icky. Some people are really into it, and enjoy the pheromones it gives off (and the extra aroma pubic hair gives used panties). Pubes also have amazing functions that can actually keep you healthy and STI-free. 

If you’re still feeling the stigma, consider watching some porn that includes people with pubes. We’re going to bet that it’s not going to completely disrupt your viewing experience. If it is shocking at first, keep watching it for a few weeks. You’ll move past your gut reaction to the different look, and you may even find that you kinda like it.

As strange as it might sound, your pubic hair is a part of you, and you have complete control over it. Exercising your agency is one of the most important parts of being human. Don’t be afraid to put your foot down and let people know that you need to do what makes you comfortable.