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Dr Phil: The joy of hair

Dr PhilWhy are we so obsessed with shaving off our body hair? We're all African apes and we're all meant to be covered in hair, so any attempt to remove it only ever works in the short term. Attempts to remove it tend to go in cycles of fashion, largely because women are made to think (by manufacturers of hair removal products) that men find body hair a turn off. Some probably do, but there are plenty who don't. Back in the seventies, the bible of sexual fulfilment was The Joy of Sex by Dr Alex Comfort. The graphic line-drawings were of a thin, bearded man and a long-haired un-shaven woman. It contained fabulous advice such as: 'Women used to chop off their armpit hair, or they did until a new generation realised it was sexy. In fact, the armpits should on no account be shaved, as they can be used instead of the palm to silence your partner at climax. If you must use your hand to clasp over his mouth, then make sure you rub it through the aromatic hairs in your own and your partner's armpit first.'

So there you have it. Cut off all your hair and you're missing out on one of nature's finest aphrodisiacs. Where do you think musk comes from? I know is says the musk glands of Himalayan musk deer on the bottle but at least half of it is the sweat and smegma of assorted hairy mammals. And a fine and enticing smell it is too. Sex expert Dr Ruth K. Westheimer is a keen advocate of armpit sex, a surprisingly enticing alternative when you fancy something a bit different, and all the better for a clump of sweaty hair. And yet our shaving obsession has now reached such a level that many women feel obliged to shave their vulvas, going entirely bald or leaving the slimmest of strips or the tiniest of goatees.
Why? Pubic hair is nature's buffer for the bump and grind of life, and to remove it all can make sex uncomfortable. I suspect internet porn is largely to blame. The ubiquitous image of a porn star shaven to look pre-pubescent and with labia nipped and tucked out of the way is deeply disturbing. Sure, pubic hair occasionally needs a bit of a tidy up but genitals were not made to be buffed and polished.
As for the rest of the body, women often react to magazine opinions and what they think other people (particularly women) will think of them. But a lot of men date hairier women because they find it attractive. Shave the lip hair and the legs and you may be less of a turn on. So before you invest in a never ending mountain of hair removal products, it's always worth checking if your partner likes you as you are. If so, who cares about anyone else?
Men are becoming just as likely to go hairless, and not just on their heads. Porn again has fed the obsession of penis size, and that you look bigger if you shave off all those pubes (although it's quite easy to nick yourself and hard to stop the bleeding). There are plenty of salons who'll take money off you for a 'back, sac and crack' job but if you're in a relationship it's worth checking if your partner might not prefer you spent the money on chocolates, flowers and a meal out. Life is all about choices.
A lot of people say they have hair in the wrong places and quite reasonably want it removed. This site gives you sound information about the options available. An underlying medical condition like polycystic ovary syndrome may need treatment. But before you embark on 9 months of electrolysis, ask those you love and trust if it's really necessary. A lot of people are really into hair, wherever it is.
Dr Phil Hammond is a medical doctor, comedian and commentator on health issues.

Written by: Dr Phil Hammond
Edited by: Dr Phil Hammond
Last updated: Friday, August 13th 2010

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Comments on this article

Posted by Optional on 14/10/2016 at 10:59

I cannot disagree more. Going "bare down there" makes for much more intense feelings during sex. And the statement that it makes you look pre-pubescent is insulting as it insinuates a perversion. I enjoy the way it feels and the way it looks. My wife enjoys it, too. Don't judge me or anyone else. It's a choice.

Posted by Optional on 03/12/2014 at 02:50

great article Dr. Hammond. Your website gives quality articles which is a far cry from the junk in the internet esp on matters related to sexual health.

Posted by Optional on 24/08/2011 at 03:41

Some people like being hairless because of the heightened sensitivity, smoothness and for sexual reasons and nothing to do with porn or looking pre- pubescent. There are alot of people out there who like being smooth and thats their right and not to be ridiculed. There is nothing wrong with it and doctors need to except it.Some don't probably because they come from the old school of hirtism.

Posted by Optional on 06/02/2011 at 05:10

Awesome website. Like the comedic touch.

Posted by Optional on 28/06/2010 at 12:48

This is just fabulous. A fun, interesting and reassuring read.