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Shaving down there leaves you with a vulnerable vagina

Krissy Brady is a women’s health + lifestyle writer who’s so out of shape, it’s like she has the innards of an 80-year-old. Instead of learning how to crochet, she decided to turn her emotional baggage into a writing career (genius, no?)...

Razor burn should be the least of your concerns about shaving your girly bits

Just because summer’s over doesn’t mean we’ll allow our nether regions to morph into overgrown shrubbery. OK, maybe a little, but a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that 87 percent of women remove some (or all) of their south-of-the-border strands — and 90 percent of those women remove them by shaving versus waxing.

But, who can blame us razor-clad women? Just hearing the phrase "bikini wax" makes my legs slam shut. However, women who shave their bikini area are apparently more susceptible to a number of infections, according to study author Andrea DeMaria. Your pubic hair acts as a layer of protection for your vagina, so it goes without saying that when you remove it, you're leaving yourself vulnerable.

Plus, genital skin is extremely delicate — much more so than the skin on your legs or in your armpits — so if you're shaving your bikini area with the same force you use when shaving elsewhere, you could be causing micro-traumas and irritations that may lead to bacteria growth and infections. (Cue: "Psycho Strings.") That being said, any hair removal method can lead to these issues when done improperly.

Shaving or waxing

So, which is safer: shaving or waxing? Theoretically, getting professionally waxed is safer, but it really depends on the type of skin you have. "Some women are super sensitive to wax (yours truly) and can develop a dermatitis from the wax itself," says women's health expert Dr. Evelyn Minaya, M.D., OB-GYN and host of The Juice on Z Living. "It does decrease the number of times you have to do it, but I find it to be painful. Shaving can cause 'red bumps' in the area, and it's usually from shaving creams or the type of razor that you use."

The consequences of not shaving properly can range from razor burn (duh) and abrasions to ingrown hairs and itching, but done properly it's a harmless hair removal strategy. "Whether it be shaving or waxing you have to have the right tools," says Minaya. For waxing, you have to go to a reputable place and make sure they're clean. Afterward, remove any excess wax as soon as possible so as to not cause irritation.

For the shavers in the crowd: "I always encourage my patients to use 'girly' razors," says Minaya. "When you use razors designed for men they're usually too sharp for our pubic hair (they're designed for beards which are thicker) and you can remove a part of your skin while shaving; setting yourself up for infection and irritation."

Minaya recommends not using shaving cream or razors with moisture strips, since they can introduce irritants to your pores and cause a reaction. Whether you shave or wax, when you're finished, apply a combination of hydrocortisone and an antibacterial cream to the skin, which will help reduce the amount of "red bumps" and irritation you may experience.

And if you have maimed yourself, steer clear of sexual contact until your skin fully heals. This might be difficult if he's cooking in his boxers again, but your sexual health has to come first.

More health tips

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A vaginal gel is being developed to prevent HIV
Do you know his STD status? There's an app for that

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