Does your pre-date ritual include sipping on a glass of pinot noir, putting on a slow jam, and shaving your pubes down to a minimum? If so, you’re not alone: New research has found that an estimated 84 percent of women and 66 percent of men have trimmed, shaved, or waxed in the past. But tidying up downstairs may come with a cost: This research also found that people who groom their pubes are more likely to have a history of sexually transmitted infections.
In a paper published Monday, doctors from the University of California, San Francisco report on the results of a survey of 7,580 Americans about their history of STIs, frequency of grooming, and frequency of sexual partners. High-frequency groomers trimmed daily or weekly, and extreme groomers were people who removed their pubic hair more than 11 times per year. About three-quarters of the respondents said they had groomed before, and within this group, 17 percent were defined as “extreme” groomers and 22 percent were “high-frequency” groomers.
The doctors found that any type of grooming was positively associated with an increased risk of having an STI. People who were extreme groomers were three to four times more likely to contract an infection.
The doctors determined that there are two likely reasons for this result. The most obvious one is that people who tend to their pubic hair are also more likely to engage in sexual behavior. This makes a lot of sense: Previous surveys have found that people who groom often take into account their partner’s preference, which is likely why about 62 percent of American women remove their pubic hair completely. For better or for worse, we live in a social landscape in which it’s the norm for ladies to be utterly, completely landscaped.
The second reason, however, is a little less obvious and a lot more concerning: The authors also believe that the micro tears in the skin that happen while shaving might make it easier for infections to take hold. Essentially, getting a little cut when shaving opens a pathway for infection if there is genital contact or unprotected sex. The researchers conclude that doctors should tell their patients to groom a bit less or, better yet, that groomers out there should try to keep it in their pants until their skin has healed entirely.