Believe it or not, pubic hair is something I look at and talk about everyday in my office.

A bit strange, but absolutely true. An important part of a physical exam at the Pediatrician’s office is to check to see if the big “P” (puberty) has started. One way to do that is to is to check for the other P (Pubic hair). So if it’s bare when I look “down there”….it is just confusing. Has the hair not come in, or has it been taken off? The trend is to go bare down there, starting at a very young age. As in all of it – removed, in girls (and boys) as young as 12. Trimming your garden is one thing. But removing all your hair to make a vagina look like a prepubescent girl is a bit different.

So why is this the new trend? I don’t know that it’s just one thing, but likely a constellation of issues at work here. Some young girls may shave their pubic hair because they want to reject the idea their body is changing. Maybe it’s because most of the inappropriate clothing manufactured these days is skimpy and revealing. Or that the Porn industry has a done fabulous job marketing their product – naked women with naked vaginas. Or that models and superstars (most of whom have no business being role models in the first place) have publicly declared their love for Brazilian Waxes and overnight became the spokeswomen for our vulvas.

But consider this….pubic hair has a job and it is there for a reason. Hair “down there” provides an extra layer of protection. It keeps the dirt and germs out and it wicks away the secretions and moisture from our bodies. The skin of the labia is not meant to be bare, so when it is left in the nude, over time the skin will start becoming thicker and darker to protect itself.

So for a little turn-off on what people think may be a turn-on? Pubic hair is coarse and when it is shaved it grows back with a sharp edge that can irritate the skin. It gets bumpy and itchy. The tiny nicks and cuts you get from shaving can increase transmission of viruses, like Herpes. So it’s not uncommon for bare vaginas to come to my office with all sorts of problems.

So what’s a girl to do? There are many options. First, talk to your daughter. You may be surprised that she is shaving and has not talked to you about it. Make sure she is using a quality razor and changes the blades often. Also be sure she is using an emollient to reduce irritation when shaving. Kindly suggest that pubic hair can be reduced but eliminating it altogether has its consequences. Shaving the thighs and the outside part of the vagina and leaving the hair in the center and on the labia may give you the best of both worlds: the ability to wear your string bikini (if that’s your thing) and protect your lady parts.

Dr. Lisa