25/03/2013 18:27 GMT | Updated 25/05/2013 06:12 BST

The Politics of Body Hair Removal

It's a controversial issue, and one not without discussion in mainstream media, blogs, articles, and across dinner tables everywhere: bikini line maintenance.

Caitlin Moran is an outspoken advocate of the full female bush. Gwyneth Paltrow went on record to say a Brazilian wax changed her life. BBC Newsnight dedicated a whole segment to the issue in 2011, physicians have condemned the practice, and beauty salons report that as many men as women are now seeking advice on removing hair from down there. Everyone has something to say about it.

Whatever your opinion, recent research from Courthouse Clinics suggests bikini laser hair removal is on the rise. Over 80% of our laser hair removal patients are plucking for work on their pubic hair, suggesting that the girls on Sex and the City were right- the trend won't abate any time soon.

Fifty-six per cent of our patients choose the popular Brazilian. Named after the pioneering work of seven South American women, the J Sisters, the Brazilian involves removal of all pubic hair, leaving behind a small vertical strip or triangle just above the vaginal area. New technology now means that it can take less than 20 minutes with lasers, with no pulling, tugging or ripping of the hair. It goes a long way to explaining the rise in popularity for laser hair removal- what was once a painful process is now a gentle treatment, especially compared to waxing or depilation.

Perhaps surprisingly, almost 25% of our patients choose complete hair removal with what is commonly known as 'The Hollywood.' Traditionally the reserve of dancers and models, increasing numbers of woman are finding that a totally, and permanently, hair-free pubic region is hygienic, low maintenance and eliminates the constant monitoring and monthly salon trips of other methods.

The most famous, and in-depth, research of bikini line preferences was done by Debby Herbenick and Vanessa Schick, authors of Read My Lips, last year. They conducted a research study at Indiana University that found 60% of American women between 18 and 24 are sometimes or always completely bare down there, and almost of half of 25-29 year olds report similar. The prevalence of 'no hair there' reduces in older women, but still up to 10% in the 50-plus group are thought to engage in some sort of pubic hair removal. The Independent reports that figures are expected to be similar in the U.K.

Whilst the J Sisters' Brazilian technique is relatively modern, body hair removal is a tale as old as time. Egyptian Pharaohs believed in the innocence and beauty in smooth, hairless skin, and are famous for having concocted a sticky, wax-like substance from honey and oil to tackle underarms, legs, and the pubic area.

Greeks of both sexes have always ridden themselves of body hair- though, as you might have noted on ancient sculptures, men didn't exercise their pubis. Arabs, Turks, and women from the Mediterranean have, for years, whipped away most body hair, and epilation was a large part of Roman culture.

Fortunately, as the numbers of women - and men- following this ancient body hair removing trend continues to increase into modern day, the levels of pain and maintenance they're subjected to are reducing significantly as technology runs to keep up in the game.