The mons pubis is a rounded, fleshy mound that covers the pubic symphysis, which is the joint of cartilage that unites the right and left pubic bones. It is generally recognized as part human sexual anatomy, and is present in both males and females. In most cases it’s more pronounced in women than in men, though its appearance can vary widely, usually in relation to the overall proportion of a person’s body fat. Whether it’s even recognizable can often also be a factor of the density of a person’s pubic hair. Its main role is to protect the pubic bone during sexual intercourse, though researchers sometimes also think it might play a role in pheromone secretion and overall sexual attraction. People who are concerned about the prominence of this part of their anatomy sometimes retain the services of a cosmetic surgeon to “lift” or otherwise enhance the fleshy bulge.
This part of the body is also referred to simply as “mons,” mons veneris, or “the pubic mound.” Its name is derived from the Latin for "pubic mound," and is not gender-specific. Many people think about the term in mostly feminine terms, though. For instance, mons veneris translates from the Latin as "mound of Venus" or "mound of love," which is a far more feminine and evocative phrase. A colloquial term for this part of the female anatomy is "fanny hill," a punning allusion to "fanny" — a British word for the female genitals — and a reference to the well-known 18th-century British pornographic novel Fanny Hill, written by John Cleland.
From infancy, the genitals of both boys and girls sit on a slight bump of flesh, and this generally only grows and becomes more apparent during puberty. Most experts believe that this bulging is an anatomical feature intended to cushion the pubic bone from impact during intercourse, when bodies often press into each other with some force. A slight elevation to the genitals might also help pheromones, which are sex hormones, disperse more easily. This can help with sexual attraction.
Development in Females
All of the external organs of the female reproductive system are located between the mons pubis and the perineum. When girls reach puberty, the body's estrogen production causes the area to thicken and become covered in pubic hair. Its exact appearance varies according to a woman's age, race, heredity, and the number of children she has had. The outer labia — known as the labia majora — extend from the lower reaches of the mons pubis. The triangular formation of hair on the mons and the labia majora is called the escutcheon.
Presence in Males
In a pubescent male, the mons and the scrotal sac undergo similar changes and tend to become more pronounced. While scientists are not certain of the purpose of pubic hair, it is thought that its function is to capture the oil secretions of the sebaceous glands located in the area. In males particularly, these secretions are used to signal sexual availability and, at least from an evolutionary perspective, are powerful enough to prompt changes in the physiology or behavior of another member of the species.
As a Cosmetic Attribute
This area of the body has not escaped the attention of cosmetic surgeons. One procedure, called the pubic lift, is known clinically as a mons pubis rejuvenation. This lifting of a sagging mons is often done in conjunction with an abdominoplasty, commonly referred to as a “tummy tuck.” Aside from improving the appearance of the genitalia, the procedure sometimes has the added benefit for women of exposing the clitoris, which can lead to enhanced sexual satisfaction. Plastic surgeons might also perform liposuction on the area for patients who are dissatisfied with the size, shape, or appearance of this part of their genitals.
Internal Mons Pubis Complications
The mons pubis is not often a source of pain or problems, but associated with the area are some possible complications. These are some conditions that can affect the pubic bone and pelvic area.
Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction
Symphysis pubis dysfunction or SPD is a medical condition characterized by the symphysis pelvis joint becoming too relaxed. When this joint relaxes, it can cause pain in the pelvic girdle, usually described as a shooting, burning, or grinding discomfort.
Unfortunately, this condition can be severely painful and often occurs during pregnancy but happens for any reason. But some factors can increase the risk of developing this function, like a previous pelvis injury, a history of pelvic pain, or a physically demanding lifestyle or profession.
People report the pain to be over the pubic bone, between the vagina and anus, around the upper thighs, or on both sides of the lower back. Because this joint relaxation can cause pain in so many places, it can be challenging to properly diagnose the source of the pain.
When someone experiences this pain, it can be debilitating, making it tough to walk, lift objects, or separate their legs. Treatments typically include physical therapy and, in the worst cases, pain medications.
Osteitis pubis occurs when the symphysis joint is inflamed. This joint tends to be the cause of many mons pubis pain. This condition is common in athletes, pregnant individuals, or those that have experienced previous pelvis pain or injury.
Osteitis pubis is slightly easier to diagnose than symphysis pubis dysfunction because the pain is more consistent, causing radiating pain in the upper thighs that can slowly worsen or come on suddenly and sharply.
The mons pubis condition often stems from childbirth, overuse, or pelvis stress. A urological or gynecological procedure performed incorrectly can also cause osteitis pubis.
Because the source of the condition is inflammation, treatment includes anti-inflammatory medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroid injections. These medications work alongside physical therapy and pelvic strengthening exercises.
External Mons Pubis Complications
These are some conditions that affect the external health and appearance of the mons pubis region.
Folliculitis is the inflammation of the hair follicles. The symptoms are sometimes mistaken for an ingrown hair or follicle but are usually due to an infection from sweat. It can also occur when waxing, shaving, or tweezing damages the follicle at its base. This condition can manifest as small red bumps, itchiness, or a burning sensation on the mons pubis.
Most people get pimples on their face, but you can get them anywhere on your body, including your mons pubis. Pimples can occur for seemingly no reason or due to poor hygiene and irritation from clothing or shaving.
Boils are painful lumps that form under the skin. They’re filled with pus and caused by bacteria that enter the skin via an open wound. Boils are unpleasant and unappealing, but luckily, not a cause for concern.
They typically only last a few days, and once they come to a white head, you can drain the pus. Most can be drained at home, but larger ones may require a doctor's visit. Just keep the area clean and dry until it is resolved.
Cysts are more unpredictable, as they can be filled with a pus-like fluid, tissue, or even bone. They’re caused by bacterial infections, an injury to the area, or a clogged gland, whether a sweat gland or sebum gland.
Smaller cysts, although painful, are innocuous and often remedy themselves. But larger ones may require surgical removal or help from a doctor to drain.
Ingrown Hair and/or Follicles
Most people who shave their bodies are familiar with ingrown hairs. They occur when plucked or shaved hair grows back into the skin instead of breaching the surface and growing outward. Treatment is simple, allow the hair to grow out, and eventually, the follicle should fix itself.
Bacterial or Fungal Infections on the Skin
Infections on the skin can lead to many of the conditions discussed here, but they can also be uncomfortable or painful on their own.
These infections can cause itchiness, redness, or small bumps similar to hives. They are typically from sweat, unclean hot tubs or baths, and any other exposure to bacteria.
Chafing or Rubbing
A simple complication with the mons pubis is chafing, which causes redness and discomfort. This condition is usually due to wearing tight clothing around the area made from unforgiving materials, such as denim.
Caring for the Mons Pubis
When showering, be sure to wash the mons pubis with a mild, unscented soap. Always dry the area after showering or bathing. While removing pubic hair is up for debate, be aware that in most cases it is more sanitary to leave it be. If you choose to shave or wax, ensure all your tools are cleaned and sanitized to avoid infection and ingrown hairs.