Advertisement
Health

Nope. Shaving Your Pubes Probably Won't Give You an STI.

Don't let misleading headlines scare you.

by Gigen Mammoser
Dec 6 2016, 7:54pm

Today you might have read that shaving your pubic hair increases your risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection. That was the swift conclusion of many a media outlet after a study came out describing a correlation between grooming habits and STIs. But we're here to tell you to slow your roll.

Of the study's 7,580 respondents, 66 percent of men and 84 percent of women reported some degree of buzzing, scissoring, or shaving. And the groomers were roughly 80 percent more likely to report having experienced an STI during their lifetime. 

However, before you launch a campaign to bring back the bush, it's important to understand what the study did not find—namely, cause and effect. Despite what some of the headlines reporting on this study have implied, the researchers did not show that pubic trims were directly responsible for the increased rate of STIs. The correlation between the two variables isn't really understood at this point.

But the authors do propose theories. The first and ostensibly most compelling among them is that pubic grooming can result in microtears or abrasions to the sensitive skin in the genital area. These small wounds create an environment in which "cutaneous STIs," diseases spread through skin-to-skin contact, can spread more easily. But despite sounding good on paper, this is just a theory; Dr. Benjamin Breyer, one of the study's authors and chief urologist at the UCSF Department of Urlology, notes that, "It remains to be seen how skin trauma could contribute to STI transmission and how much of a factor it could be."

A second theory is that sharing hygienic implements—like razors and scissors—also poses a risk, albeit a small one. The authors cite one instance between two brothers in which one transmitted HIV to the other through a shared razor blade. So that's scary. You should probably just use your own pubic grooming kit. But the good news is that the most common types of STIs among groomers, gonorrhoea and chlamydia, have not been reported to be carried by razors or scissors.  

Finally, the authors suggest that people who keep a well-trimmed pubic zone are more likely to engage in risky sex. They cite other studies in which grooming is identified as a proxy for sexual activity—that people who groom are also more sexually active, and maybe less responsible. If this is the case of course, then that would mean that the grooming itself has nothing to do with the increased STIs—and we could all go merrily ahead with the 'scaping while also making sure not to engage in "risky or irresponsible" behavior in bed.

While this research does present an interesting look at trends in genital grooming, it doesn't provide a compelling case for going au natural. And it might even distract from the more important conversation around condom use, diagnosis, treatment, and education around STIs. 

In the meantime, keep Vajazzling, if that's your thing.