Anyone who has ever groomed, or specially waxed, their nether regions, knows what a masochistic exercise it is. Yanking out those wiry strands of hair can break the morale of even the toughest amongst us. But how much do we really know about the bush that protects the most sensitive part of our anatomy? Turns out, not nearly enough. Here are nine truly bizarre facts about pubic hair.
1. Pubic hair plays a very important role in sexual health. It prevents against friction burns during sex. This the reason pubic hair is coarser and thicker than the hair on the rest of our bodies.
2. Pubic hair is curly because curly hair does a better job of capturing the pheromones from one's sweat glands, ensuring that each personal has a unique genital odour. In the days when people roamed around half-naked, genital odour was considered an aphrodisiac.
3. On an average, pubic hair ranges between 0.5 to 1.5 inches. But according to the Illustrated Book of Sexual Records, the longest known pubic hair in history was 28 inches long and belonged to a woman from South Africa. The hair was so long, it reached her knees. The same woman had armpit hair that was 32 inches long.
4. Removal of pubic hair substantially increases the chances of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in both men and women, according to a recent study. The skin in the genital area is sensitive and prone to micro tears and cuts while grooming. Bacterial and viral STIs can then enter the system through these cuts. People who groom their pubic hair are two times more likely to get herpes, which can spread through the skin, 90 percent more likely to have lice and 70 percent more likely to have STIs that spread through body fluids such as Chlamydia.
5. While letting your pubic hair grow might be better for your genital health, research shows that women who remove their pubic hair have greater interest in sex and indulge in more oral sex, fingering, clitoral stimulation and increased duration of penetration, among other things.
6. We've all heard of pubic lice or crabs. Ever wondered where they came from in the first place? DNA research has confirmed that we got them from gorillas over 3 million years ago. While we know that we have our largest living primate relatives to thank for the affliction, there is no conclusive study about why the transfer from gorillas to humans took place. A popular theory that was first published in the Journal of Biology in 2010 is that our ancestors from three million years ago were often exposed to gorilla carcasses due to living in close proximity and as food. And, since pubic hair is coarse and tough like gorilla hair, the lice found it to be close to its natural habitat and moved there.
7. Our obsession with pubic hair is not new, in the Victorian era, pubic hair was considered a sign of fertility and health. Even though women would shave their pubes to prevent lice infestations, they'd use vaginal wigs—or merkins—to maintain the illusion. Even in pre-Victorian Britain, men from upper classes wore their lovers' pubic hair on their hats as proof of their potency and sexual prowess. Lovers often exchanged pubic hair as a gift of love and even today, a museum in Scotland has a snuffbox that belonged to King George IV, filled with one of his mistress' pubic hair.
8. Pubic hair is often darker than the hair on the head. This is because hair colour is determined by a pigment called melanin and its concentration varies in different parts of the body. There will almost always be more melanin around the crotch than on your head, which is why pubic hair is generally darker than head hair.
9. In pop culture, the female bush was seen in all its glory for the first time in 1971 in the Playboy magazine. It happened because of the fiercely competitive Pubic Wars between porn magazines Playboy and Penthouse in the 1960s and 1970s.