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So there might be link between bikini waxing and STIs

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is the Health Editor at SheKnows. She is a bioethicist and writer specializing in sexual and reproductive health and the intersection of bioethics and popular culture. She is an adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham ...

Why you might want to reconsider your pubic hair grooming habits

Good news for people sporting a full bush: You're less likely to get sexually transmitted infections like herpes, human papillomavirus or syphilis than those who frequently groom their pubic hair. In fact, a new study found that pubic landscapers are three to four times more likely to get STIs than those who opt to go au naturale.

But no need to cancel your bikini waxing appointment just yet: The study didn’t find that frequent pubic grooming causes STIs, only that there is link between the two.

More: The low-down on bikini waxes

"Grooming is linked to a heightened self-reported sexually transmitted disease risk, and for those who groom frequently or remove all of their hair often, the association is even higher," said lead researcher Dr. Charles Osterberg, an assistant professor of urology and surgery at the University of Texas Dell Medical School in Austin.

Osterberg noted that pubic hair grooming and removal have become more popular with both men and women following changed public perceptions of the cleanliness and attractiveness of body hair.

More: 8 things you probably didn't know about herpes

Almost three-quarters of all participants in the study had groomed their pubic hair at least once before, breaking down to 84 percent of women and 66 percent of men. “Extreme” pubic grooming — meaning full removal of all hair down there more than 11 times each year – was observed in 17 percent of study participants and meant a quadrupled risk of contracting an STI. Another 22 percent were labeled “high-frequency” groomers, meaning that they trim their pubic hair daily or weekly (coming with a 3.5-fold increased risk of STI), with 10 percent of groomers falling under both the extreme and high frequency categories.

More: Thank this woman later for her cautionary tale on bikini waxing

Some researchers speculated that the tiny cuts and scrapes that result from grooming might be how the infections are spread. Others, like Osterberg, simply point out that people who groom their pubic hair frequently probably have more sex, which unsurprisingly, puts them at more risk for STIs.

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