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Although fine vellus hair is present in the area in childhood, the term pubic hair is generally restricted to the heavier, longer hair that develops with puberty as an effect of rising levels of androgens. Pubic hair is therefore part of the androgenic hair.
Development of pubic hair
Before puberty, the genital area of both boys and girls has very fine vellus hair, referred to as Tanner stage 1 hair. As puberty begins, the body produces rising levels of the sex hormones known as androgens, and in response the skin of the genital area begins to produce thicker, often curlier, hair with a faster growth rate. The onset of pubic hair development is termed pubarche. The change for each hair follicle is relatively abrupt, but the extent of skin which grows androgenic hair gradually increases over several years.
In most females, pubic hair first appears along the edges of the labia majora (stage 2), and spreads forward to the mons (stage 3) over the next 2 years. By 2-3 years into puberty (roughly the time of menarche for most girls), the pubic triangle is densely filled. Within another 2 years pubic hair also grows from the near thighs in most young women, and sometimes a small amount up the line of the abdomen toward the umbilicus.
In males, the first pubic hair appears as a few sparse hairs on the scrotum or at the upper base of the penis (stage 2). Within a year, hairs around the base of the penis are too numerous to count (stage 3). Within 3 to 4 years, hair fills the pubic area (stage 4) and becomes much thicker and darker, and by 5 years extends to the near thighs and upwards on the abdomen toward the umbilicus (stage 5).
Other areas of the skin are similarly, though slightly less, sensitive to androgens and androgenic hair typically appears somewhat later. In rough sequence of sensitivity to androgens and appearance of androgenic hair, are the armpits (axillae), perianal area, upper lip, preauricular areas (sideburns), periareolar areas (nipples), middle of the chest, neck under the chin, remainder of chest and beard area, limbs and shoulders, back, and buttocks.
Although generally considered part of the process of puberty, pubarche is distinct and independent of the process of maturation of the gonads that leads to sexual maturation and fertility. Pubic hair can develop from adrenal androgens alone, and can develop even when the ovaries or testes are defective and nonfunctional. See puberty for details.
There is little if any difference in the capacity of male and female bodies to grow hair in response to androgens. The obvious sex-dimorphic difference in hair distribution in men and women is primarily a result of differences in the levels of androgen reached as maturity occurs.
Patterns of pubic hair vary. On some individuals, pubic hair is thick and/or coarse; on others it may be sparse and/or fine. Hair texture varies from tightly curled to entirely straight. Pubic hair patterns can also vary by race and ethnicity.
Pubic hair and axillary (armpit) hair can vary in color considerably from the hair of the scalp. In most people it is darker, although it can also be lighter. On most women, the pubic patch is triangular and lies over the mons veneris, or mound of Venus. On many men, the pubic patch tapers upwards to a line of hair pointing towards the navel (see abdominal hair), roughly a more upward-pointing triangle. As with axillary (armpit) hair, pubic hair is associated with a concentration of sebaceous glands in the area.
Pubic hair in art
In ancient Egyptian art, female pubic hair is straightforwardly indicated in the form of painted black triangles. In classical European art, it was very rarely depicted, and male pubic hair was often, but not always, omitted. Sometimes it was portrayed in stylized form. The same was true in much Indian art, and in other Eastern portrayals of the nude. In 16th century southern Europe Michelangelo felt able to show the male David with stylized pubic hair, but female bodies remained hairless below the head. Nevertheless, Michelangelo’s male nudes on the Sistine chapel ceiling display no pubic hair. In renaissance northern Europe, pubic hair was more likely to be portrayed than in the south, more usually male, but occasionally female.
By the 17th century, suggestions of female pubic hair appear in pornographic engravings, such as those by Agostino Carracci. By the late 18th century female pubic hair is openly portrayed in Japanese shunga (erotica), especially in the ukiyo-e tradition. Hokusai's picture The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, depicting a woman having an erotic fantasy, is a well-known example. Despite this Fine art paintings and sculpture created before the 20th century in the Western tradition usually depicted women without pubic hair or a visible vulva.
It has been argued that John Ruskin, the famous author, artist, and art critic, was apparently accustomed only to the hairless nudes portrayed unrealistically in art, never having seen a naked woman before his wedding night. He was allegedly so shocked by his discovery of his wife Effie's pubic hair that he rejected her, and the marriage was later legally annulled. He is supposed to have thought his wife was freakish and deformed.  This theory originated with Ruskin's biographer, Mary Luytens. It is much-repeated. For example Gene Weingarten in his book I'm with Stupid (2004) writes that "Ruskin had it [the marriage] annulled because he was horrified to behold upon his bride a thatch of hair, rough and wild, similar to a man's. He thought her a monster." However, there is no proof for this, and some disagree. Peter Fuller in his book Theoria: Art and the Absence of Grace writes, "It has been said that he was frightened on the wedding night by the sight of his wife's pubic hair; more probably, he was perturbed by her menstrual blood." Ruskin's biographers Tim Hilton and John Batchelor also believe that menstruation is the more likely explanation.
Francisco Goya's The Nude Maja has been considered as probably the first European painting to show woman's pubic hair, though others had hinted at it. (Lucas Cranach's 'The Nymph of the Spring' c.1537, Washington National Gallery, has distinct pubic hair.) The painting was considered quite pornographic at the time.
In Japanese drawings pubic hair is often---such as in hentai---omitted, since for a long time the display of pubic hair was not legal. The interpretation of the law has since changed.
Ironically, it is also in Japan where pubic hair is seen as something highly attractive. However, in many Middle Eastern and eastern European cultures, pubic hair is considered unclean, and for matters of both religion and/or good hygiene, women in those cultures have removed their pubic hair for centuries. Some examples of regions where this is typical are ancient Persia, Turkey, Albania and ethnic-Albanian portions of Kosovo, and in many other cultures throughout the Mediterranean.
Modification of pubic hair
In Islamic societies, removing the pubic hair is a religiously endorsed practice.
Trimming or completely removing pubic hair has become a custom in many cultures. A preference for hairless genitals is known as acomoclitism. The method of removing hair is called depilation (when removing only the hair above the skin) or epilation (when removing the entire hair). The trimming or removal of body hair by men is sometimes referred to as manscaping.
Removal of pubic hair is not common in East Asian cultures. However, with more exposure to Western attitudes, pubic hair removal is gaining acceptance.
Some arguments for modification of pubic hair have included:
- sexual practice, such as for oral sex
- tactile sensation
- discomfort, such as heat or itchiness
- Ease in Sex
The modification of pubic hair can also be considered a statement about one's style or personal lifestyle as can leaving it unmodified. The fashion designer Mary Quant was famously proud that her husband trimmed hers into a heart shape.
Some styles include:
- Natural — no trimming or maintenance
- Trimmed — hair length is shortened but not removed or shaped
- Triangle — hair removed (generally waxed) from the sides to form a triangle so that pubic hair cannot be seen while wearing swimwear . This can range from the very edge of the "bikini line" to up to an inch reduction on either side. Hair length can be from an inch and a half, to half an inch
- Landing strip — hair sharply removed from the sides to form a long centred vertical rectangle, hair length about quarter of an inch
- "Chaplin" moustache — a shorter, square version of the landing strip
- Brazilian waxing/G-wax - pubic hair completely removed except for a very thin remnant, centred, narrow stripe above the vulva approximately an inch in height, and the hair length in the sub-centimeter range
- Full-Brazilian/Hollywood/Bare — pubic hair completely removed
- Faux Hawk - hair is styled in Mohawk fashion with out shaving the hair
- Mohawk - shaving the hair on the left and right leaving the middle to be spiked
- Dyed — colouring hair to match hair on the head, or to give it a unique look (for example, red--in the shape of a heart)
- The Butch/The Bull - Trimming all the hair very short except for a small perpetual long patch(a.k.a. rat’s tail) resembling a popular hairstyle among lesbian women.
- Others — V-shaped, heart-shaped, arrow, initials, etc. These are usually variations of the Brazilian/G-Wax, where a design is formed of the pubic hair above completely bare vulva.
- Goddess nut.jpg
Egyptian painting of the sky goddess Nut, showing her pubic hair as a black triangle.
- Dream of the fishermans wife hokusai.jpg
Hokusai's print The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife
- Goya Maja naga2.jpg
Francisco Goya, The Nude Maja
Gustave Courbet's L’Origine du monde
- Weingarten, I'm With Stupid, p.150-1.
- Understanding Islam; Islamic Ruling on Waxing Unwanted Hair Retrieved March, 29, 2006.
- The Hair Down There, University of California, Santa Barbara's SexInfo Retrieved May, 4, 2007.
- Hair varieties
- Pubic Hair Distribution Study categorizes four types of pubic hair patterns and summarizes observed occurrence of each type of pattern.
- Trimming & Shaving of the Pubic Hair, article from The-Clitoris.com
WikiDoc Research Resources for Pubic hair
|Articles on Pubic hair||Most recent articles on Pubic hair • Most cited articles on Pubic hair • Review articles on Pubic hair • Articles on Pubic hair in N Eng J Med, Lancet, BMJ|
|Media (Slides, Video, Images, MP3) on Pubic hair||Powerpoint slides on Pubic hair • Images of Pubic hair • Photos of Pubic hair • Podcasts & MP3s on Pubic hair • Videos on Pubic hair|
|Evidence Based Medicine Regarding Pubic hair||AND (Cochrane Database Syst Rev[http://worldselectshop.com/?id=9361 Cochrane Collaboration on Pubic hair • Bandolier on Pubic hair • TRIP on Pubic hair|
|Cost Effectiveness of Pubic hair||AND (Cost effectiveness)|
| group5 = Clinical Trials Involving Pubic hair | list5 = Ongoing Trials on Pubic hair at Clinical Trials.gov • Trial results on Pubic hair • Clinical Trials on Pubic hair at Google
| group6 = Guidelines / Policies / Government Resources (FDA/CDC) Regarding Pubic hair | list6 = US National Guidelines Clearinghouse on Pubic hair • NICE Guidance on Pubic hair • NHS PRODIGY Guidance • FDA on Pubic hair • CDC on Pubic hair
| group7 = Textbook Information on Pubic hair | list7 = Books and Textbook Information on Pubic hair
| group8 = Pharmacology Resources on Pubic hair | list8 = AND (Dose)}} Dosing of Pubic hair • AND (drug interactions)}} Drug interactions with Pubic hair • AND (side effects)}} Side effects of Pubic hair • AND (Allergy)}} Allergic reactions to Pubic hair • AND (overdose)}} Overdose information on Pubic hair • AND (carcinogenicity)}} Carcinogenicity information on Pubic hair • AND (pregnancy)}} Pubic hair in pregnancy • AND (pharmacokinetics)}} Pharmacokinetics of Pubic hair •
| group9 = Genetics, Pharmacogenomics, and Proteinomics of Pubic hair | list9 = AND (pharmacogenomics)}} Genetics of Pubic hair • AND (pharmacogenomics)}} Pharmacogenomics of Pubic hair • AND (proteomics)}} Proteomics of Pubic hair
| group11 = Commentary on Pubic hair | list11 = Blogs on Pubic hair
| group12 = Patient Resources on Pubic hair | list12 = Patient resources on Pubic hair • Discussion groups on Pubic hair • Patient Handouts on Pubic hair • Directions to Hospitals Treating Pubic hair • Risk calculators and risk factors for Pubic hair
| group14 = Continuing Medical Education (CME) Programs on Pubic hair | list14 = CME Programs on Pubic hair
| group17 = Informatics Resources on Pubic hair | list17 = List of terms related to Pubic hair
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