What purpose does pubic and armpit hair serve?

There are rarely more complex things than the body systems of living organisms, especially humans, since they are considered to be the most advanced species in terms of intelligence. There are numerous things about our body that still continue to baffle scientists and encourage them to continue their exploration. The presence of armpit hair and pubic hair is one of those mysteries that scientists are trying to unravel. Some outrageous theories have originated over the years, like armpit hair is for babies to hold onto and pubic hair is to act as a cushion during sex, but neither of them makes any sense whatsoever.

The predecessors of modern humans are believed to have had huge amount of hair on their body, covering all parts of their skin. However, it seems to have thinned considerably during the evolutionary process. The scientific world has formed some conclusions about the abundance of hair in the pubic and underarm regions. Some of which make more sense than others. One of the theories is that the hair is to reduce friction when the skin rubs against skin. This is in accordance with the claim that pubic hair is for acting as a buffer during intercourse.

Another reason why hair might be present in our armpits is to protect the skin from bacteria. Armpits are prone to sweating due to their entrapped nature, and armpit hair might be useful for catching most of that perspiration. This ensures that any bacteria that may form in the armpit is mostly concentrated on the hair and not the skin of the armpit, keeping it cleaner. It also helps give the armpits a cushioned feeling, so that the skin doesn’t chaff when the arm is in motion.

However, the most accepted theory is related to pheromones. Pheromones are odorless and oily secretions produced by the apocrine glands, which are indicators of sexual maturity. One fact that backs up this claim is that the underarm and pubic hair starts to grow in adolescent years, an obvious marker of puberty. The apocrine glands become active during the pubescent period as well. Unlike other sweat glands, they are primarily concentrated in the armpit regions and near the genitals. The hair in those regions helps to retain the pheromones and provide a protein-rich environment for their activity. The hair growth is triggered by sexual hormones like testosterone.

The pheromones and the bacterial activity combine to produce a musky scent unique to a person. This scent is attractive to the opposite sex and mates can identify their significant ones with this smell. For some people these scents can be sexually stimulating too. The armpit and pubic hair trap the pheromones, making them stay longer and the scent more prominent. There is also another theory that the pubic hair is to keep the genitals warm. However, this doesn’t seem to be as plausible as the former one. The scientific world is pursuing the matter, hopeful of more definitive results.

You might also like: