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Pubic Hair Removal among Women in the United States: Prevalence, Methods, and Characteristics

Authors

  • Debra Herbenick PhD, MPH,

    Corresponding author
    1. Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA
      Debra Herbenick, PhD, MPH, Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University, HPER 116, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA. Tel: (+1) 8123223777; E-mail: debby@indiana.edu
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  • Vanessa Schick PhD,

    1. Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA
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  • Michael Reece PhD, MPH,

    1. Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA
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  • Stephanie Sanders PhD,

    1. The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction and the Department of Gender Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, USA
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  • J. Dennis Fortenberry MD, MS

    1. School of Medicine, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN, USA
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Debra Herbenick, PhD, MPH, Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University, HPER 116, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA. Tel: (+1) 8123223777; E-mail: debby@indiana.edu

ABSTRACT

Introduction.  Although women's total removal of their pubic hair has been described as a “new norm,” little is known about the pubic hair removal patterns of sexually active women in the United States.

Aims.  The purpose of this study was to assess pubic hair removal behavior among women in the United States and to examine the extent to which pubic hair removal methods are related to demographic, relational, and sexual characteristics, including female sexual function.

Methods.  A total of 2,451 women ages 18 to 68 years completed a cross-sectional Internet-based survey.

Main Outcome Measures.  Demographic items (e.g., age, education, sexual relationship status, sexual orientation), cunnilingus in the past 4 weeks, having looked closely at or examined their genitals in the past 4 weeks, extent and method of pubic hair removal over the past 4 weeks, the Female Genital Self-Image Scale (FGSIS) and the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI).

Results.  Women reported a diverse range of pubic hair-grooming practices. Women's total removal of their pubic hair was associated with younger age, sexual orientation, sexual relationship status, having received cunnilingus in the past 4 weeks, and higher scores on the FGSIS and FSFI (with the exception of the orgasm subscale).

Conclusion.  Findings suggest that pubic hair styles are diverse and that it is more common than not for women to have at least some pubic hair on their genitals. In addition, total pubic hair removal was associated with younger age, being partnered (rather than single or married), having looked closely at one's own genitals in the previous month, cunnilingus in the past month, and more positive genital self-image and sexual function. Herbenick D, Schick V, Reece M, Sanders S, and Fortenberry JD. Pubic hair removal among women in the United States: Prevalence, methods and characteristics. J Sex Med 2010;7:3322–3330.

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