People Who Trim Their Pubes Are More Likely To Have An STI

street artist Banksy's take on pube trimming, as seen in Canonbury, London. Banksy via Duncan Hull/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

It’s bad news for the Brazilian, so bring back the bush! New research has found a link between pubic hair grooming and an increased risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

In addition, they discovered that those who regularly groomed down below tended to be younger, more sexually active, have had more sexual partners this year, and sleep with more people over the whole of their lifetime.

The study looked at 7,580 people (56 percent men, 44 percent women) aged from 18 to 65 years old in the US. Their findings were published in the British Medical Journal’s publication Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Around 75 percent said they had trimmed their pubic hair before, with a higher percentage for women (84 percent) than men (66 percent).

The electric razor was the weapon of choice for 42 percent of men, while 61 percent of women opted for the manual razor. Around 25 percent of men and women just trimmed using scissors.

The researchers deemed those who removed all their pubic hair more than 11 times a year as “extreme groomers” and those who groomed their pubic hair daily or weekly as “high frequency”. Out of the sample group, 17 percent were classified as extreme and 22 percent as high frequency.

In total, 13 percent of the survey said they have had herpes, human papilloma virus (HPV), syphilis, molluscum, gonorrhea, chlamydia, HIV, or pubic lice.

Extreme groomers had a notably higher number of sexual partners than any other group. Groomers of all types were found to have an 80 percent increased risk of contracting an STI, after factoring in age and number of sexual partners. The high frequency and extreme groomers were found to be four times more likely to contract an infection, particularly ones such as herpes and HPV that only rely on skin-to-skin contact.

It wasn't all rosy for those who rarely groom though, as they were found to have a higher risk of lice infestation.

The research was an observational study and didn’t look for a cause. However, considering the team factored in the number of sexual partners when they looked to see if grooming was associated with STIs, it suggests that it’s not simply a case of those who trim are necessarily into “risky sexual behaviors”, as the researchers put it. They did suggest that intense grooming, or even moderate levels of grooming, can cause tiny skin tears that can make an indivdual more susceptible to bacteria and viruses.

Regardless of the apparent risks, the researchers say that pubic grooming is becoming increasingly popular around the world, along with changing perceptions of attractiveness, cleanliness, masculinity, femininity, and sexuality.

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