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Grooming Your Pubic Hair May Make You More Likely to Get an STI

Everybody feels differently about pubic hair. Whether you choose totally bare or full-on natural, that’s your choice, right? Well, you may want to reconsider getting that full Brazilian. According to a new study done at the University of California—San Francisco, people who regularly groom their pubic hair are 75 percent more likely to develop a sexually transmitted infection than those who don’t. Uh, what?

Grooming, like shaving and waxing, can create “epidermal microtears” that could allow transmission of bacteria or viruses like HPV, New York Daily News reports. This doesn’t mean grooming causes the infection, but that these tiny tears make it easier for viruses to enter your body.

How much you groom your pubic hair is also a factor in how likely you are to get an infection. The study reported that extreme groomers, who remove all their pubic hair more than 11 times a year, are 28 percent more likely to report having an STI than high-frequency groomers, who trim daily or weekly. So it may be better to do regular touch-ups yourself than head to a professional for a wax several times a year.

The good news about grooming is that it can eliminate other sexually transmitted problems, like pubic lice. And the researchers point out that people who do more down-there grooming may just be having more sex, leading to more chances to get infected. This could be a case of correlation without causation.

Be smart and safe when it comes to your personal grooming—and your sexual health! Do what makes you feel confident, but also be sure to use condoms and get tested regularly for STIs.

Sarah Nelson is senior at the University of Iowa pursuing a Journalism major, English minor, and Fundraising and Philanthropy Communication Certificate. When she's not binge-watching One Tree Hill or Jane the Virgin on Netflix (again), she's is probably rereading the Harry Potter series or writing for her blog, SarahNdipity. With an addiction to books and coffee, Sarah hopes to take the world by storm as a book editor. Or social media marketer. Or blogger. (She hasn't quite made up her mind yet, but that's okay because who says you have to be just one thing?)