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.
“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.
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.
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.