- Pubic hair removal is increasingly common among men and women worldwide
- Pubic hair groomers are more likely to develop an sexually transmitted infection (STI)
- Groomers were less likely to develop any lice infestations
Extreme pubic hair grooming increases the risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
To study the impact of pubic hair removal on the rates of sexually transmitted infections, the research team surveyed a nationally representative random sample of US adults about their intimate grooming habits.
‘Frequent pubic hair removal is linked to sexually transmitted infections.’
Around 14,000+ people of 18-65 year olds took part in the survey. The study participants answered to the questions regarding
1. Intensity (trimming or complete removal)
2. Frequency (from on a daily basis to annually)
3. Tools used for pubic hair grooming
4. Their sexual history (some 7470 had at least one sexual partner)
- 74% (three out of four) respondents said they had groomed their pubic hair before; out of which the response from women (84%) was more compared to men (66%).
- 17% of the groomers were classified as 'extreme' (people who removed pubic hair more than 11 times a year) and 22% as 'high frequency (people who trimmed their pubic hair daily or weekly)
- 1 in 10 people was classified as extreme and high frequency groomers
- Groomers were younger, sexually active and had more sexual partners than those who didn't groom their pubic hair.
- Extreme groomers had the highest number of sexual partners.
- 42% men used electric razor; while 61% women used manual razor; 1 in 5 men and women used scissors
- 943 respondents (13%) said they had at least one of the following which include herpes; human papilloma virus (HPV); syphilis; molluscum; gonorrhoea; chlamydia; HIV; or pubic lice.
Factors like intensity and frequency of grooming are also linked to the magnitude of STI risk.
Low intensity grooming was linked with a doubling in risk of a lice infestation. This finding suggests that grooming might make it harder for the lice to breed successfully.
To explain their findings, the researchers suggest that grooming might be a proxy for higher levels of sexual activity and associated infection risk, or that it might cause tiny skin tears, through which bacteria and viruses can easily pass.
Evidence of grooming could be a useful prompt for clinicians to ask about safer sex practices, or to suggest delaying sex to allow the skin to heal, say researchers.
- E Charles Osterberg et.al. Correlation Between Pubic Hair Grooming And STIs: Results from a Nationally Representative Probability Sample; Sexually Transmitted Infections (2016); doi:10.1136/sextrans-2016-052687