Looks like it’s time for your scissors, razors, and waxing sessions to retire. A new study published in the journal of Sexually Transmitted Infections suggests that regularly trimming, shaving, and removing pubic hair actually increases your risk of picking up Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
Researchers from the University of California conducted a survey on over 14,000 people, aged 18 to 65 years old, and found that down-there “groomers” have a higher risk of getting STIs than “non-groomers.”
“In this study, we demonstrate that pubic hair grooming is linked to heightened STI risk,” lead author of the study, Dr. E. Charles Osterberg, says.
“In particular, this association is strongest among those who groom their pubic hair frequently and/or remove all of their pubic hair often,” he adds.
According to the study, the researchers asked the respondents about their sexual history and the frequency and intensity (trimming, shaving, or complete removal) of their pubic hair-grooming regimen. Overall, groomers tended to be younger, more sexually active, and had more sexual partners.
But that doesn’t mean that older, less sexually active, and one-woman men are safe. Adjusting the responses for age and number of sexual partners, “pubic hair removal of any kind was still associated with an 80 per cent increased risk of STIs”, the study suggests.
What's more shocking is that 17 percent of survey respondents who were classified as “extreme” groomers (those who removed all pubic hair at least 11 times a year), and 22 percent who were classified as “high frequency” groomers (those who trimmed their pubic hair on a daily or weekly basis) were four times more vulnerable to STIs.
In contrast, those who reported low intensity and/or frequency of grooming were associated with only twice the risk of getting infected.
Around 13 percent of respondents reported to have at least one of the following infections: Herpes, syphilis, human papillomavirus (HPV), molluscum, gonorrhoea, chlamydia, HIV, or pubic lice.
But that doesn’t mean you have to give up grooming down there forever. According to the research, a possible explanation for the findings is that groomers and extreme/frequent groomers are more prone to STIs because they tend to be the ones with higher levels of sexual activity, as having frequent sex motivates them to groom more often.
However, there is still a risk of epidermal microtears, which would allow for the easier transfer of STDs to your skin then into your bloodstream. Ouch.
Whether catching some sort of STD is caused by pubic hair-grooming or not, it’s better to be safe than sorry—just trim, shave, wax. And please, have protected sex.