Why do we have pubic hair?

12 January 2016

Question

Why do we have hair under our armpits and the pubic area?

Answer

Kat Arney put this steamy question to Ginny Smith...Ginny - That's a very interesting question, and it's one that's perplexed people a bit. There are a few different theories. The first is that it's simply there to prevent rubbing or chaffing - if you imagine you weren't wearing clothes, as we weren't when we evolved, you might find those kind of areas were quite rubby as you were walking along, so the hair could simply be to stop that. But that's not the best explanation. The best explanation I've come across is that it's all down to mating. It's all down to finding yourself the perfect partner...Kat - So many things in life...Ginny - So we produce two types of sweat around our bodies. We have eccrine glands which are found all over and they produce that watery sweat that cools us down when we get to hot. But we also have apocrine sweat glands and they produce a stickier and slightly smellier sweat, and these glands are mainly found in your armpits and your pubic region. Now the theory is, this apocrine sweat contains chemical messengers that can send out information to prospective mates.Kat - These are like pheromones aren't they? The kind of the...Ginny - Yes. A lot of animals communicate using pheromones. We're not sure if humans do it - it's still one of the big unanswered questions. What we do know is that humans are attracted to people based on smell. There have been some hilarious studies where they've got women to smell sweaty shirts...Kat - Oh yes, yes - the BO T-shirts studies...Ginny - I'm sure we've talked about these before. Well what they've show is you can choose a partner whose compatible via their smell, and it's usually looking at something called a major histocompatibility complex, which is basically how different their immune systems are to your immune system. And you want someone with quite a different immune system so that your offspring have the best chance of survival. So the theory is that the hair in those areas is to kind of wick away these smelly signals and send them out into the world so that we can find a partner.Kat - So basically armpit hair is there to help you get laid?Ginny - Yes. So armpit hair should be sexy.

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