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Medic warns: shaved genital areas can promote venereal diseases

Increased risk of venereal diseases through pubic hair removal
Trimming and removing pubic hair in the genital area is a common practice today. Lush pubic hair simply no longer corresponds to the common ideal of beauty. But according to a recent study, pubic hair removal is associated with an increased risk of venereal diseases.

In their current study, the researchers at the University of California in San Francisco investigated possible connections between pubic hair removal and the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STI). The result was clear: shaving, waxing and the like go hand in hand with increased sexually transmitted diseases. However, the question of the causes remains open. Tiny injuries could be the reason, the researchers suspect. But other causes are also possible. The scientists published their results in the BMJ's “Sexual Transmitted Infections” magazine.

Pubic hair care, sexual behavior and venereal diseases recorded
Using more than 7,500 U.S. volunteers between the ages of 18 and 65, the researchers analyzed the effects of pubic hair removal on the risk of STDs. The subjects were asked about their pubic hair care, sexual behavior and suffered STI. The research team led by Benjamin Breyer from the Institute of Urology at the University of California defined "extreme pubic hair care" as the removal of all pubic hair more than eleven times a year. Daily or weekly trimming was assigned to the "high-frequency pubic hair care" category.

The majority of the test persons trim the pubic hair
Herpes, human papillomavirus, syphilis, molluscum contagiosum (Dellwarzen), gonorrhea (gonorrhea), chlamydia and HIV were grouped together under the venereal diseases. The scientists also looked at the risk of pubic lice separately. According to the researchers, the majority of the participants (74 percent) performed pubic hair removal, with the proportion being significantly higher for women (84 percent) than for men (66 percent). Among those who trim their pubic hair, 17 percent practice “extreme pubic hair care” and 22 percent “high-frequency pubic hair care”, the scientists report. On average, the subjects who removed the pubic hair were significantly younger than those who did not remove the pubic hair.

Men rely on electric razors, women on hand razors
Most men used an electric razor (42 percent) to remove pubic hair, while most women (61 percent) chose a hand razor. The use of scissors for pubic hair care was about equally widespread among men and women (19 percent and 18 percent). Waxing is used by five percent of those surveyed, while zero percent of men use this method. Hair removal using other methods, such as laser, was not statistically significant in men and women, according to the researchers.

Increased risk of sexually transmitted infections
Overall, thirteen percent of participants reported STI suffered, with eleven percent of men and 15 percent of women affected. Compared to the subjects who do not remove their pubic hair, the pubic hair trimmer showed significantly increased infections (14 percent versus 8 percent). In particular, “extreme pubic hair care” went hand in hand with an increased spread of STI (18 percent), according to the researchers. Only in the pubic lice did the extreme and high-frequency pubic hair care show no increased risk of infection.

Micro injury is a possible cause
According to the researchers, there are several possible explanations for the increased risk of infection during pubic hair removal. This results in epidermal micro-injuries, which makes it easier for pathogens to penetrate the organism, the scientists explain. The risky sexual behavior of pubic hair trimmers may also play a role. According to the researchers, the data were adjusted in terms of the number of sexual partners that changed, but the risk behavior was difficult to assess here. However, scientists believe that the transmission of pathogens through the use of razors and the like is rather unlikely. Now further "studies with more detailed STI risk information are needed to unleash these possible mechanisms", the researchers conclude. (fp)

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