Hands up! How many of you shave your pubic hair? Do you just trim the hedges or do you get in there with a razor and aim for a barren landscape….or maybe you wax it to a denuded valley! And men I am looking at you too…shaving is not just a woman thing!
Researchers at the University of California—San Francisco in the United States (US), found that participants in a study were 75 percent more likely to get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in their lifetime if they shaved or waxed their pubes. There is no direct link to transmitting or getting an STI, but it might increase the possibility of STI transmission overall. The researchers are not saying shaving directly causes infection, but instead leads to an increased risk of infection.
The research was done through a survey of people aged between 18 and 65 years old and US residents. They asked about respondents’ pubic hair grooming habits, sex life, and STI history. Of 7 580 respondents who completed the survey, 74 percent reported grooming their pubic hair, 66 percent of men and 84 percent of women.
Researchers defined “grooming” as removing all or most of your pubic hair at least 11 times a year. People who groomed on a daily or weekly basis were labelled “extreme groomers” and they were 28 percent more likely than other regular groomers to get an STI.
But what are the reasons for the correlation between STIs and shaving?
The act of shaving may create “epidermal micro tears” that might allow transmission of bacteria or viruses like HPV. Groomers also tend to be younger and more sexually active, which makes total sense. When you are not having regular sex, it is easy to forget about pubic hair maintenance. So, a 65-year-old married woman who shaves once in a while is just generally less likely to get an STI than a young “extreme groomer” who sleeps with multiple partners and happens to shave on daily basis.
But it’s not all bad news for committed groomers. According to the study, removing pubic hair does eliminate certain other sexually transmitted problems, like pubic lice. Other fun facts from the study: men use electric razors more than women, a similar percentage of men and women use scissors, and laser hair removal or use of tweezers was rare among both. But remember this was a US study.
At this point, though, there is no need to throw away your razor or cancel your waxing appointment before the big date. The researchers did advise that you might want to shave a little in advance of having sex so that your skin and any irritation have a chance to heal before getting close to someone else. In any case, keep doing what you are doing. Get tested for STIs, disclose to your partners, and practice safe sex. And if you like to wax and shave your pubic hair, go for it. n