If you do any "manscaping" or tending of your "lady garden," you might want to consider cutting back. A recent study suggests a correlation between pubic grooming and contracting STIs.
The study, led by Benjamin Breyer, a urologist at the University of California, San Francisco, and published this week in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, found that participants who had groomed their pubic hair at least once in their lifetime were almost twice as likely to have had at least one STI. And participants who had groomed or gone completely bare more than 11 times per year were more than four times as likely.
Before you toss out your razors, though, keep in mind that this study found a significant correlation between the two. There's still no evidence of causation. And the study did not collect data on whether people were having safe sex or getting vaccinated for HPV, and those are two major preventative measures.
That said, it's important to be aware of because, well, it does make sense when you consider the biology at play. As Jennifer Gunter, OB-GYN at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, explains to NPR Science, shaving and waxing creates micro-tears and cuts in your skin. If you groom right before you have sex, those tiny wounds might not have time to heal and viruses and bacteria will make their way into your system more easily. Gunter notes that pubic hair is a mechanical barrier — like your eyebrows — that traps bacteria and debris, and that it's there for a reason. So, there's no need for alarm, but
Correlation between pubic hair grooming and STIs: results from a nationally representative probability sample [Sexually Transmitted Infections via NPR Science] Photo Iain Watson.