A Twitter pal, @tonybalogna, knowing that I often blog about genital health, just had to let me know. He also sent me the photo. Let me tell you kids, a close up of a naked, hairless, erect penis on an iPhone screen is just not flattering unless you are aiming for the amature-porn-star-try-out look or the hairless-cat look. Regardless, I’m not going to scar you with a link.
There are lots of good lessons here. The first is the abject stupidity of sending naked photos of ones genitalia via Twitter, text, or e-mail. If there is one thing I learned from my mother, it’s don’t ever commit anything to paper or the Internet that you don’t want to see on a 20 foot billboard beside the freeway. This is clearly something that needs to be included on orientation day for members of Congress, along with where they can find the bathrooms and how to play nice with the other kids on the playground. Condoms apparently need to be included in the gubernatorial orientation day kit.
The second lesson is about manscaping, which we will extend to the female version as well – clamscaping (if I know my urban dictionary). As a reproductive health specialist I can tell you there are definite risks with pubic hair removal. Now don’t panic ladies, I’m not taking about the inner thighs, but taking the hair off of the mons, labia, and anal area for women and the scrotum and anal area for men.
You see, we have pubic hair for a reason. The genital skin is more delicate and fragile than the rest of the body (making it nice to touch and be touched). Because the skin is so much more sensitive, it needs some protection. Pubic hair is one line of defense. Women and men without pubic hair are more likely to have problems with an eczema-like genital skin condition, called lichen simplex chronicus (symptoms are chronic itching and irritation of the genitals and over time the skin can appear thickened). Add in our uniquely American obsession with rigid personal hygiene and the skin is extra bare, because all those soaps have stripped away the naturally protective oils (barrier #2). And don’t even THINK about using baby wipes. Those things are harsh as all get out.
Many women who remove their pubic hair also complain about more vaginal discharge. This is because pubic hair is meant to trap discharge (ladies, it’s normal to have some daily discharge). When there is no pubic hair, the discharge ends up on the panties, making it look as if there is more. As a result, many women start wearing pantyliners on a daily basis, but daily exposure to the irritants in pads only increases the irritation and discharge.
Why do people manscape and clamscape? Gillette tells men, the shorter the bushes the taller the trees (kids, I could not have made that line up if I tried, not in a million years). But there is definitely a pornification of our culture. News flash: what happens is porn is not normal.
So by all means, wax or shave the inner thighs so you can wear a bathing suit (BTW, if you wax, make sure you go to a salon that does not double dip! Those hot wax pots could be a breeding ground for nasty skin bacteria). But otherwise, it’s best to leave your genitals covered.
That’s a lesson that Anthony Weiner still needs to learn.
* Manscaping: the act of removing or trimming male pubic hair