Should You Be Shaving Your Balls?
If you've ever glimpsed any 1970s porn, you know tastes around pubic hair and grooming have changed a great deal over the years. Let's just say that it was a heck of a furrier time back then.
These days, people on- and off-screen trend more toward keeping the hedges trimmed up a bit, at the very least. And that applies to all genders. No matter what kind of anatomical equipment you're sporting, you're probably paying more attention to grooming and maintenance of the genital area. That can include trimming, shaving, waxing and more.
'Proper skin care is essential, regardless of your grooming habits.'
If you've considered it, you probably have questions. What are the essential do's and don'ts of genital grooming for guys? What tips can professional estheticians offer? What are the potential consequences of grooming gone wrong?
The pros and cons of manscaping
There are, of course, varying degrees of genital grooming. They range from the periodic trim to full waxing, but even just taking a little off the top every now and then can have benefits.
"When it comes to everyday life, regular trimming adds a layer of comfort," said Stacey Laricchia, an esthetician and the owner of The Birthday Suit waxing spa franchise. "Long hair can snag on clothing or cause discomfort during intercourse. During oral sex, a stray hair can quickly ruin the mood. Also, hair retains odor, which could potentially turn your partner off."
A few of the reasons for male genital grooming include aesthetics and reducing odor and infection.
1. Shaving your balls can improve aesthetics
Everyone has their own sexual tastes, but if nothing else, a large amount of pubic hair can affect the look of your penis and balls.
"A well-groomed appearance, whether seen or unseen, automatically enhances confidence, which can translate into other areas of your life," Laricchia said.
2. Manscaping can reduce odor
The armpits and pubic area have special glands called apocrine glands that secrete a fatty substance. Sweat and these fats adhere to hair, which attracts bacteria that feed on them, the process of which causes odor.
Less hair equals less area for unpleasant smells to develop.
3. Shaving your genitals can reduce infection
By keeping the hair trimmed, you reduce the chances of ingrown hairs that can lead to irritated bumps—but that's not all. Believe it or not, an untended ingrown hair can develop into an infection or even something worse for men who are obese or have diabetic nerve damage that leaves them less sensitive to pain.
There's even a type of gangrene associated with ingrown hairs that become infected in the groin.
"Fournier's gangrene is a necrotizing genital infection we see in men that will oftentimes start in the perineum or in the scrotal area," said Amy Pearlman, M.D., a men's health specialist and co-founder of Prime Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
If men who have significant extra weight can't adequately examine the sore spot or maybe even differentiate between swelling and excess tissue, Pearlman said, it can allow these types of infections to get out of hand before they seek treatment.
4. Everybody's doing it
The reality is that manscaping is pretty common: A 2017 study showed that 50.5 percent of men reported regular grooming, and 73 percent of men ages 25 to 34 reported grooming in anticipation of sex.
Tips for shaving your balls: The do's
Grooming isn't as simple as grabbing a trimmer and getting to work. You should observe a couple of pieces of expert advice.
1. Use a trimmer specifically made for manscaping
Most guys simply trim a bit of length off the pubic hair. For that, you should probably invest in a trimmer dedicated for use only in your nether regions. Be sure to use the guards to protect against cutting it too short, and always keep it clean.
Laricchia recommends men seek a trimmer designed explicitly for male grooming. Look for one that features multiple guard sizes and an LED spotlight for hard-to-see areas.
2. Consider waxing instead of shaving
While a majority of guys probably only want a trim, if you really want to accentuate your penis and balls, you might want to think about getting a professional waxing.
"It helps to increase blood flow to the skin's surface and acts as a form of exfoliation, promoting cell turnover and nerve regeneration," Laricchia said. "For waxing novices, you'll discover a newfound sensitivity in the waxed area. It can increase sensitivity and pleasure during sexual activity."
Tips for shaving your balls: The don'ts
Just as important as the do's are the don'ts. But like the do's, they're simple enough. The most important goal here is to avoid any accidents or unintended outcomes.
Again, the advice from the experts is straightforward.
1. Don't use a razor
Manual razors might seem like the most straightforward way to achieve pubic hair removal, especially if you're looking to get that "smooth as a turtle shell" look. However, you're probably best off choosing another approach.
"Probably one of the most common things I see with guys who shave down there is they'll get an ingrown hair," said Neel Parekh, M.D., a urologist with Cleveland Clinic.
Many devices have been specifically designed to trim and remove hair from the genital area. Don't just reach for the razor you use for facial hair.
2. Don't forget that your skin needs attention, too
After you shave your face, you might be using a toner to soothe the skin and restore its pH balance. Perhaps you use an alcohol-free aftershave, maybe some moisturizer and certainly, some sunscreen if you live in sunnier climes.
The point is, you recognize you've put the sensitive skin on your face through a fairly traumatic event and you're taking the time to make sure that face grinning back at you in the mirror is the best it can be.
The same goes for your genitals after you've been grooming down there. Moisturizing and exfoliating are vital all over your body, but especially in some of those hard-to-get-to places in your pubic area. A little bit of aftercare goes a long way.
"Proper skin care is essential, regardless of your grooming habits," Laricchia said. "Exfoliating with a gentle sugar scrub or body wash three times a week can help remove dead skin cells. This is particularly important when waxing, as the regrown hair is softer and may struggle to penetrate the surface of the skin, leading to ingrown hairs."