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Amy is a Board Certified Family Health Nurse Practitioner (FNP) with over 15 years of experience working in Hospital Medicine, Urgent Care and Primary Care practices. Amy graduated Thomas Jefferson University with high distinction earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2008, a Master of Science in Nursing in 2010 and a Post Master's Certificate in Adult Gerontology Acute Care (AGAC) in 2014. She was recognized by the Elite American Nurses Association in 2013 for her dedication, achievements and leadership in the field Nursing. She served as a clinical preceptor for a number of Nurse Practitioner students and enjoys teaching the bright minds of future NPs.
While yeast is commonly found throughout the body, sometimes it can grow out of control, causing a yeast infection. With yeast infections most common in the vagina, this can leave people wondering if shaving the pubic area is something that can cause a yeast infection.
The answer to this is mixed, with shaving not causing a yeast infection, but also increasing the risk of one occurring. Continue reading to learn more about how yeast infections develop, and why shaving your pubic area may increase their occurrence.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Yeast Infection?
- What Causes a Yeast Infection?
- Can Shaving Cause a Yeast Infection?
- Can Shaving Increase the Risk of Yeast Infections?
- How Does Shaving Your Pubic Area Affect Your Health?
- What to Do if You Have a Yeast Infection?
- Key Takeaways
What Is a Yeast Infection?
Your body and skin naturally contain yeast, a type of fungus, but it does not become a problem until it overgrows. This is the case with a yeast infection, which most commonly occurs due to an overgrowth of the candida yeast in the vagina.
While yeast infections are most common in the vagina, they can also affect other parts of the body, including the navel, skin folds, penis, mouth, or nail beds. However, in most cases, a yeast infection refers to a vaginal yeast infection.
What Are the Symptoms of a Yeast Infection?
The most common symptoms of a vaginal yeast infection include:
- a clumpy, cottage cheese-like vaginal discharge
- watery vaginal discharge
- pain or discomfort when urinating or during intercourse
In cases of a severe yeast infection, you may also notice symptoms of swelling, redness, and cracks in the skin outside the vagina.
What Causes a Yeast Infection?
A yeast infection results from an overgrowth of candida yeast, which can occur when something causes the microbiome in the body to go out of balance.
The microbiome, and the good bacteria contained within it, play an essential role in controlling harmful bacteria and ensuring certain microorganisms, such as candida yeast, do not grow out of control. While the microbiome typically acts as a check on their growth, it can also be thrown off balance, making it so that the microbiome no longer controls candida overgrowth.
Some things which may cause an imbalance in your microbiome include:
- immune-suppressing diseases, such as HIV
- certain types of medication (e.g., antibiotics, hormonal contraceptives, steroids)
- lack of sleep
While these factors will not cause a yeast infection, they make it easier for one to occur.
The growth of candida may also be promoted by various lifestyle habits, including:
- eating a high-sugar diet
- being sexually active
- certain contraceptives (e.g., diaphragms, vaginal sponges, and intrauterine devices (IUDs)
- having poor vaginal hygiene
- wearing tight-fitting and non-breathable clothing, such as tight jeans, synthetic underwear, or spandex
If continued, these habits may lead to the overgrowth of candida.
Of note, while being sexually active is a risk factor for yeast infections, a yeast infection is not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection (STI) because it is possible to get one without having sex.
Can Shaving Cause a Yeast Infection?
There are many reasons why someone may want to shave their pubic area, whether because of their partner’s expectations, to meet social norms, for personal preference, or to increase sensation during sex. Whatever the reason, shaving brings a razor very close to your vagina, which can cause some to wonder if it may cause a yeast infection.
The yeast infection most common in women, which occurs in the vagina, cannot be caused by shaving. This yeast infection occurs because of an imbalance in the vaginal microbiome, which shaving will not cause.
However, shaving may still cause a yeast infection in other areas of the body if you cut yourself while shaving, and that cut then becomes infected with yeast.
Can Shaving Increase the Risk of Yeast Infections?
While shaving is unlikely to cause a yeast infection, barring some particular circumstances, shaving your pubic area can increase your risk of yeast infections.
Pubic hair serves a very important purpose for your health by preventing the transmission of bacteria and other pathogens, similar to how eyelashes protect your eyes from foreign objects. The pubic hair helps to trap debris, dirt, and potentially harmful microorganisms, keeping them away from your genitals.
Even more, the hair follicles of your pubic hair produce sebum, which is an oil that helps to prevent bacteria from reproducing.
When you shave and remove the pubic hair, you may be at a higher risk of certain infections, such as vaginitis, UTIs, and yeast infections, because one of the body’s safety features has been removed, and it becomes easier for pathogens to make their way to the body.
Furthermore, pubic hair helps keep a small pocket of space between the skin and underwear, which also means that it allows for airflow. This is crucial as airflow ensures that excess moisture does not occur, something in which yeast thrive. As discussed previously, one risk factor for yeast infections is wearing tight-fitting clothing, and that is because they allow for less airflow and create a more favorable environment for yeast. Similarly, shaving the pubic region also lessens airflow and can have a similar reaction.
How Does Shaving Your Pubic Area Affect Your Health?
Beyond increasing the risk of infection, shaving your pubic area can have other complications for your health.
The biggest consequence is from a shaving injury, such as a cut, becoming infected.
A more severe type of infection is an abscess, which is a deep, under-the-skin infection that results from irritation due to waxing or shaving. An abscess generally presents with redness and swelling and can be very painful.
Some research also suggests that pubic hair grooming is linked to a higher risk of STIs, with some STIs related to pubic hair grooming including:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV)
- Molluscum contagiosum
More information is needed regarding why there is this increased observance, though, to determine if it is grooming that increases the risk or other factors.
In addition to the possibility of the above complications, shaving your pubic area can also result in itching, rashes, and ingrown hairs, which can be quite uncomfortable.
What to Do if You Have a Yeast Infection?
A yeast infection can be quickly and easily treated with antifungal medication, so it is best to see a doctor as soon as you notice its symptoms to find quick relief. While there are over-the-counter options available, these are often not recommended unless you are certain that you have a yeast infection. This is because, if you are wrong and instead have another infection, treating with antifungal medication will not help treat the condition and raises the risk of it becoming more severe due to lack of proper treatment.
When you meet with your doctor, they may have you take an OTC medication or prescribe an antifungal drug. It’s then important to continue taking the medication as long as prescribed.
Yeast infections are unpleasant infections that occur when the natural yeast in the vagina grows out of control. While shaving can get close to the vagina, it does not cause yeast infections; however, it may increase your risk.
Shaving the pubic area removes a layer of protection that keeps out various pathogens, which is why those who shave the pubic area are at greater risk of yeast infections. Furthermore, shaving can lower airflow to the vagina, which creates an environment of higher moisture in which yeast thrive.
For those looking for convenient medical advice, DrHouse can connect you with an online board-certified doctor in just 15 minutes who can help you manage your yeast infection and return balance to your vaginal microbiome.
- Gaither, T. W., Awad, M. A., Osterberg, E. C., Rowen, T. S., Shindel, A. W., & Breyer, B. N. (2017). Prevalence and Motivation: Pubic Hair Grooming Among Men in the United States. American journal of men’s health, 11(3), 620–640. https://doi.org/10.1177/1557988316661315
- Vaginal yeast infections | Office on Women’s Health. (2023). https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/vaginal-yeast-infections
- InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Vaginal yeast infections (thrush): What helps? 2019 Jun 19. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK543219/
- InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Vaginal yeast infection (thrush): Overview. 2019 Jun 19. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK543220/
- Schild-Suhren, M., Soliman, A., & Malik, E. (2017). Pubic Hair Shaving Is Correlated to Vulvar Dysplasia and Inflammation: A Case-Control Study. Infectious Diseases In Obstetrics And Gynecology, 2017, 1-5. doi: https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/9350307
- DeMaria, A., Flores, M., Hirth, J., & Berenson, A. (2014). Complications related to pubic hair removal. American Journal Of Obstetrics And Gynecology, 210(6), 528.e1-528.e5. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2014.01.036
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Victoria Fanslau Mar. 07, 2023
Victoria Fanslau Mar. 07, 2023