If you’re snipping hair where the sun doesn’t shine, you’re not alone. In a new study from Indiana University, 95 percent of men and women reported shaving, waxing, or otherwise removing their pubic hair at least once over the past month.
Maybe you’re one of the 12 percent of guys who just do a little trimming—or one of the 38 percent who go all-in and hair-free. Regardless of how much you’re pruning off, paying attention to what’s sprouting downstairs can help your sex life in some unexpected ways.
You feel sexier
Prepping your privates for sex can give you an instant boost of confidence. In the Indiana study, most shavers said they kept their privates primed because it made them feel sexy, says lead author Scott Butler, Ph.D. That might be because you feel better about your manhood. “Some men find that shaving or trimming their pubic hair makes their genitals look larger, which may be enough to enhance confidence in and of itself,” says sex educator Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., author of the blog Sex and Psychology.
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Oral is easier
Less hair, more head? According to the Indiana researchers, men and women who went hair-free reported receiving more oral sex over the course of a month. That makes sense: Going down and coming up with a mouthful of curlies may kill the mood. “Some people see pubic hair as an impediment to oral sex,” says Lehmiller. Shaping up your nether regions, on the other hand, can remove that barrier and make oral sex more desirable. Manscaping can ease the abrasiveness of hair and may make the area look more presentable, says Anthony Rossi, M.D., a certified dermatologist and assistant professor at Weil Cornell Medical College.
You’re less likely to contract crabs
A clean cut keeps the crawlers away. Less bush to sift through means you can keep tabs on what’s happening under your hedgerow. A 2014 U.K. study found a direct link between increased pubic hair removal and decreased pubic lice infections over the past decade. After all, if crabs are unable to find a suitable place to lay eggs—say, thick pubes—their lifecycle ends. What’s more, researchers indicate reports of pubic lice have steadily decreased so much that there may be a complete eradication of the bugs—sexually related, anyway—in the future. That’s not to say the itchy buggers won’t take up residence in your head hair, though.
It’s way more comfortable down there
Among men in the Indiana study, one of the most common reasons for removing pubic hair was that ‘it’s a comfortable style,’” says Butler. And that increase in comfort may have contributed to the study participants feeling sexier while doing the deed. But it also holds true outside the bedroom. Manscaping can also make exercise feel less irritating, says Dr. Rossi. “Trimmed pubic hair may make [exercise] more comfortable, especially for runners, because it does not interfere with tight running shorts or contribute to chaffing.”
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You feel cleaner
You know how a good shave from your barber makes you feel like a million bucks? The same goes for that fresh feeling below the belt. In Butler’s study, men who manscaped associated being hair-free with increased feelings of cleanliness, which can make sex seem less inhibited by stray hairs or odd scents. In fact, cleaning up your pubic region can help with local hygiene in your groin area, including skin health, says Dr. Rossi. Certain funky-smelling bacteria, yeast, and fungi live down below, and when you sweat, you secrete them through your sebaceous glands. Long hair creates a hotter, happier nesting space for these odors to live, spreading the aroma from your junk to your gym shorts.