Women frequently get told what they should and shouldn’t be doing with their bodies – getting rid of all hair to make our limbs acceptable for public consumption but also never daring to be ‘high maintenance’ and embracing being a ’natural beauty’ (whatever that’s supposed to mean).
But now we can at least rest easy that we’re not putting ourselves (or others) at greater risk of STIs if we choose to remove our pubic hair – as a new study confirms personal grooming such as a Brazilian or Hollywood wax does not increase risk.
This is after several studies in 2013-2014 said the modern trend for bikini waxing was the cause behind rising numbers of STIs and warts with scientists telling women they were destroying their naturally-protective skin barrier.
They said the very process of shaving or waxing was leaving tiny cuts in the skin and letting troublesome infections take hold.
Now, a new study of 214 women, from Ohio State University, has found there is no greater risk of chlamydia or gonorrhoea when removing pubic hair.
The women were asked how often and how much they groomed their pubic hair: 53% said they had removed all of their pubic hair every week for the past year and 18% in the past month.
This group were defined as “extreme groomers” – and of the group just 10% of the women tested positive for chlamydia or gonorrhoea. But this percentage chance was the same as those who weren’t regular groomers, or didn’t groom at all.
Although almost all the women in the study said they had engaged in some degree of grooming at some point, using a non-electric razor.
Overall the results showed no evidence of a link between extreme grooming and the risk of getting an STI, the researchers said.
Although the study was small scale the researchers said their findings, which were published in Plos One, were more accurate than previous studies because they took into account factors such as frequency of sex, income, race and age.
They also noticed a correlation between women who are regular groomers being those who have sex with more people - and therefore are more likely to develop an infection.
Jamie Luster, study author, said it was important for women to know that information on the internet or from friends was not necessarily correct.
She said: “If you are sexually active, ways to reduce the risk of STIs include using condoms properly every time you have sex, having fewer and monogamous sexual partnerships, and getting vaccinated against HPV, which is one of the most common STIs.
“If left untreated, STIs can make women infertile. The best form of protection from sexually transmitted infections is using condoms.”