A doctor has called for an end to the “war on pubic hair “– by urging us to stop ravaging our nether regions with hair removal products and procedures.
Writing on KevinMD.com, Dr Emily Gibson said: “Pubic hair does have a purpose, providing a cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasion and injury and protection from bacteria.
“The amount of time, energy, money and emotion both genders spend on abolishing hair from their genitals is astronomical.”
While many of us are well aware of that awkward, often uncomfortable "in-between" stage before the next wax, Dr Gibson, who is the director of the health centre at Western University in Washington State, gives these harrowing facts: “Pubic hair removal naturally irritates and inflames the hair follicles, leaving microscopic open wounds.
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“Frequent hair removal is necessary to stay smooth, causing regular irritation of the shaved or waxed area.
“When that is combined with the warm, moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy culture media for some of the nastiest bacterial pathogens.”
Boils, abscesses, pustules and other hair follicle inflammations can also be unfortunate side-effects occurring on one's shorn genitals, as can herpes and other sexually transmitted diseases as a consequence of these "microscopic wounds" being exposed to viruses via the genitals or mouth.
And it’s not just a girl thing – male pubic grooming is ever popular, with “manscaping” spawning plenty of debate on style, frequency and length.
Cosmopolitan even provides a handy “What his manscaping style says about him” guide, in the event pubic hair analysis is paramount to your relationship.
So while socialite and inevitable role model Kim Kardashian may boast of an “obsession” with hair removal (she has even dragged current beau Kanye West along to at least one of her electrolysis sessions – is he doing it too? Who knows?!), she could well be putting those famous genitals at risk.
In December, The Atlantic asked: “Is pubic hair going extinct?”
It continued: “In a word, no. But it's on the fast track to the endangered species list, and its chief predators include the porn industry, smaller bathing suits and lingerie bottoms, and the Kardashian sisters (case in point: Kim once famously proclaimed that women "shouldn't have hair anywhere but their heads").
Indeed the boom in waxing and sculpting is not strictly a Sex And The City generation thing – even teens are opting for a tidy-up.
Take the mayor of London Boris Johnson’s niece, who at the age of 15 charged a £40 bikini wax to her mother’s credit card. The matriarch in question, Rachel Johnson, took to Vogue to write about her dismay and shock, prompting a secondary ripple of debate that a mother should write so publicly about her teenage daughter's genitals in such excruciatingly intimate detail .
And with Victoria Beckham claiming Brazilian waxes should be compulsory by the age of 15, Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria, literally waxing lyrical of the sexual benefits of the procedure, and Jennifer Love Hewitt confessing on live TV to having Swarovski crystals glued to her "precious lady" it’s little wonder this unassuming patch of body hair is finding itself largely muscled out the picture.
But now we have a doctor going on record to warn us of the ugly, disfiguring and deadly serious risks this habit makes us vulnerable to, could things be set to change?
Do you fly in the face of medical opinion and take it all off anyway, a la Dr Evil?
...Or keep a well-maintained landing strip just like Nasa's Mohawk Guy Bobak Ferdowsi?
Perhaps you prefer to let your pubic hair run wild in the manner of Phil Spector's astonishing 'fro?
Or is a no-fuss and no-frills neat thatch more your style?
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