Sphynx cat lying on a yellow blanket

I’m getting my first gynecological exam next week. Do I have to shave my pubic hair? I heard that most people do.

Great question! The short answer? No! You definitely do not have to remove your pubic hair for a gynecological exam or for any other reason. Any health care provider who performs gynecological exams has seen a wide range of genital hairstyles, and yours is not going to faze them. Although a gynecological exam may feel a little awkward to you, especially the first time, it’s just a normal part of your doctor’s work day. They are way too busy doing their job to worry about your grooming choices!

Pubic hair styles, like all trends, change over time.

Internet porn has recently popularized a totally bare look, which many young people feel pressured to copy. However, going (and staying) bald down there takes a lot of money and time (and pain!). The expectation that you’ll put that much energy into staying completely smooth down there is completely unrealistic.

Your body belongs only to you.

That means that no one else can decide how you should groom your pubic hair. If you do decide that you 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. Make sure to shave in the same direction that the hair grows. If you decide to visit 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 to decide what feels right.

A version of this post was originally published in June, 2016.