Don’t cancel your Brazilian appointment just yet.
A new study has linked grooming pubic hair with an increase in sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and people are freaking out.
If you woke up this morning to see ‘pubic hair’ trending on social media, you couldn’t be blamed for choking on your coffee a little bit, or possibly wondering what ridiculous thing Donald Trump tweeted about overnight.
But it’s not Donald making headlines this time. It’s science.
The study, published by the medical journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, found that people who frequently wax, shave, trim, or laser their pubes are up to four times more likely to report having a history of STIs, including herpes, HPV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV.
Public hair grooming was quite common among the 7,500 Americans surveyed: 66 per cent of men and 84 per cent of women reported using some method to keep the hair down there under control. Perhaps not surprisingly, young people were more likely to practice pubic grooming, and were also more likely to report having more sexual partners.
But why the link between grooming and STIs? Well, it stands to reason that folks who are having more sex are more likely to wax, shave, trim, or otherwise tidy their personal areas. Or is it that people who groom themselves have a easier time attracting partners? Hmmm.
Either way, it makes sense that people getting more action in the bedroom would also be more likely to have had an STI at some point. And the survey’s authors admitted it’s possible that people who groom their pubic hair are simply more inclined to engage in risky sex, or sex with multiple partners. But they also said that even after adjusting for factors like age and number of sexual partners, there was still a link between grooming pubic hair and having a history of STIs.
The survey’s lead author, Dr Charles Osterberg, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Texas Dell Medical School, said the link could be due to tiny tears in the skin caused by grooming. These might allow bacteria and viruses to penetrate more easily. But that’s only a theory.
Osterberg suggested that “if a clinician were to see evidence of grooming upon physical examination, perhaps that physician should inquire about safer sex practices or a sexual history.” So now we can add “is my doctor going to give me hard time about this at my next exam?” to the list of things that go through our heads while getting a Brazilian. Fab.
In any case, it’s too soon to panic. Dr Osterberg says more research is needed to determine whether or not personal grooming plays a role in the likelihood of catching an STI.
In the meantime, be sure to practice safe sex – and keep your pubic hair exactly the way you like it.
Comment: Will this study affect your personal grooming habits?