January 02, 2020
When I was thinking about applying to medical school I met with a family friend who was a physician and asked her for advice. She only had one piece to give me: read everything. She went on to encourage me to read constantly and read from a variety of sources. Great advice.
One way I make it easier for myself to read is by using an app called READ Qx (on the advice of Dr. Jason Hitkari). It’s an app that searches (reputable) journals and finds papers relevant to my topic list. Almost daily I get a new list of papers to browse. I read 1-2 of them and get a science-y, gynaecology-infertility “fix.”
Today, while on vacation, a paper popped up on pubic hair grooming. Now, normally I would swipe past this but who doesn’t want a fluffy read on vacation?
When I see a patient for the first time in consultation (and many other times afterwards) I will examine them by transvaginal ultrasound. We give people a heads up about the vaginal ultrasound in our welcome email, but I appreciate that some people will not read every line of the email, so it comes as a surprise to about 30% of women.
At the vaginal ultrasound, and at other times when women are undressed for an examination (e.g. hysteroscopy, endometrial biopsy, egg retrieval), women often lead with an apology for their leg hair or pubic hair or some other part of their body, like:
Oh I didn’t know so I haven’t prepared
I’m on menstrual cycle day X, is that ok?
I’m going for waxing later this week
Oh God this is going to be mortifying
Let me reassure you there is no gynaecologist I know who cares about any non-medical part of your appearance, that cares about the status of your hygiene or even if you are having your period for an ultrasound. It does not matter. We are examining you to try and find a way to help you - to look for disease.
Please let this reassure you.
Now, in the paper I just read on pubic hair grooming: about 80% of women do some kind of grooming and 40% will groom specifically before seeing a gynaecologist. White women, and college/university educated women were more likely to groom than others.
It should be noted that pubic hair grooming can be a health concern as waxing can open pores/cuts in the skin increasing the risk of transmission of herpes and HPV. Laser hair removal in the genital region can cause chronic vulvar irritation. In my opinion it is low risk, though, to groom your pubic hair but please remember - you are doing it for yourself, not your gynaecologist or infertility specialist. We do not care! Come as you are.
I’m going to keep reading. I promise the next papers will relate to fertility. Haha
Dr. Beth Taylor MD, FRCSC
Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility
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