Pubes. Your bikini line. Hair down there.
Whatever you call pubic hair, it’s probably kiiind of mysterious. Like, it seemingly popped up out of nowhere one day and was briefly mentioned in health class, but it’s not something you really dwell on until you’re about to hit the beach.
Because bodies are kinda fascinating — and because your health teacher will prob never go into any decent level of weird detail — Seventeen.com talked to Sara Twogood, M.D., an assistant professor of Clinical OB/GYN at Keck Medicine of USC and founder of LadyPartsBlog.com, for the full scoop on pubes.
For 15 percent of girls on average, pubic hair is the first noticeable sign that puberty has officially begun. (Breast buds are the other big sign.) As for when that happens, it could depend to some extent on your race, Dr. Twogood says. For example, black girls tend to see pubic hair around age nine, while white girls see it for the first time a year later. And no matter what your race, your body has its own timetable. Everyone is different!
It was just a different type of hair, called vellus hair, which is the the barely detectable peach fuzz that covers most of your body. See, during puberty, the body amps up its levels of androgens, a group of hormones that includes testosterone. At the same time, vellus hair follicles in the crotch area become sensitive to those androgens. What do you get when you combine those two conditions? You guessed it: Darker, thicker hair below the belt.
They’re known as the Tanner stages, and most girls take four or five years to go through them all.
Stage 1: You’re either hairless or have vellus hair.
Stage 2: Noticeable hairs start cropping up, but they’re super sparse — mostly along the labia.
Stage 3: You have slightly more hair, and it’s coarser and longer than it was before. It’s also darker — probably slightly darker than the hair on your head.
Stage 4: You have more hair, now the texture and color it will be for your adult life.
Stage 5: Your hair forms a horizontal upper border and may spread down to the inner thighs.
Even after stage 5, though, the amount and distribution of hair — especially on the upper inner thighs — could change until your mid-twenties.
It traps scent. The crotch is packed with sweat glands, which crank out chemical substances called pheromones. Humans may have evolved with pheromones to attract mates, Dr. Twogood explains — and pubic hair keeps ’em close so you smell uniquely like you (even if mating is literally the last thing on your mind).
It buffers skin during sex. When genital-on-genital action is happening, pubic hair serves as a cushion to prevent chafing. Convenient!
Which makes us ~ special. ~