Extreme Personal Grooming Raises the Risks of Vaginal Infections

Whether for reasons of hygiene, comfort or aesthetics, more than three out of four women regularly remove their pubic hair, partially or completely. But this practice is not without consequences as it increases the risk of vaginal infections.

Razor

Razor

Should they shave or not? A question that more and more women are asking themselves. Partly because they want to feel free to do with their body as they see fit, without having to bow to the societal trends of beauty. After all, hair, especially pubic hair, does not only keep you warm, but also form a protective barrier for the vaginal flora. A well-shaved pubic area or a completely shaved bikini line, therefore, increases the risk of vaginal infections or yeast infections.

According to a recent OpinionWay study commissioned by Saforelle on a sample of 1,200 French women and 200 gynecologists, more than three out of four women use bikini waxing (partially or completely). Of these, 65% say that they do so mainly for comfort (65%), hygiene (56%) or aesthetics (41%).

Bikini waxing increases the risk of vaginal infections.

However, this ritual has consequences for 92% of respondents, who believe that the larger the area of hair removal, the greater the likelihood of health problems. A phenomenon confirmed by the gynecologists interviewed in this study: almost one in two doctors reported an increase in the symptoms and pathologies associated with total or partial depilation.

60% of women do not dare to talk about their intimate problems.

Vaginosis, ingrown hair, fungal infections, and itching are some of the consequences of removing hair from intimate areas. Indeed the spectrum of infections associated with an imbalance of the vaginal flora is vast. However, 60% of women who suffer from these issues after shaving are embarrassed to discuss them with their doctors. This shame probably explains why one in three women has not found a solution to deal with this type of discomfort.

Read Also: Sexual Orientation in Men Can Affect the Intestinal Flora Which Can Raise the Risk of HIV Infection

To avoid irritation or infections, it is recommended not to wash the vagina too often from the inside and to do this with a mild soap without a cloth. Also, be careful not to wear jeans that are too tight, wear only cotton underwear, and do not wear anything at night, to help maintain the balance of the vaginal flora.

Increased risk of STDs with total hair removal

The removal of pubic hair carries an increased risk of transmitting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as gonorrhea, herpes, chlamydia, and syphilis. The risk is even greater in people who have frequent and complete depilation.

Sexually transmitted infections or diseases are on the increase, according to the CDC. It is therefore important to understand the reasons for this increase. Unprotected sex promotes transmission, but are there other factors?

Read Also: Three STDs In US Reach Record High CDC Says

The removal of pubic hair has become a common practice for women and men worldwide. The standards of beauty and seduction have changed over time. To find out whether pubic hair affects the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have collected, the results of a study on the habits of 7,580 adult Americans, 56% of whom are men. Participants were asked about the frequency and intensity of pubic hair removal (total or partial), the method of pubic hair removal and their sex lives. Among them, 7,470 people had at least one sexual partner.

The researchers believed that “extreme groomers” are people who remove all their pubic hair at least 11 times a year and “very frequent” people who shave their hair daily or weekly. The results were published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Three-quarters of the participants have already removed their pubic hair, more women (84%) than men (66%). Of these, 17% are extreme hair removers and 22% are very frequent hair removers. In general, those who waxed were younger, more sexually active and had more sexual partners.  Those who waxed the most had the highest number of sexual partners.

A high risk of STIs with frequent and complete hair removal

In terms of hair removal methods, electric shavers were preferred for men, while for women it was a hand razor. One in five people used scissors. Women used wax more often than men.

Overall, 13% of participants (943 people) reported having ever had an STD (herpes, HPV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV) or crabs. Overall, depilation was associated with an 80% increased risk. The intensity and the frequency of depilation played a role: in those who were extreme or very frequent depilators the risk increased by 3.5 to 4 times, especially in case of skin contact infections (herpes, HPV).

Read Also: HPV: Causes, Types, Symptoms, Treatments and Prevention

In the case of crabs, hair removal was generally associated with a higher risk, but extreme and very frequent hair removal was not. In fact, hair removal reduces the amount and length of pubic hair, thus reducing the risk of crab infestation.

Since the study is observational, it is not possible to establish a causal relationship. In order to explain these results, the researchers have put forward several hypotheses: Hair removal, considered as a preparatory phase for sexual intercourse, can lead to increased sexual activity and thus to a higher risk of infection with a sexually transmitted disease; in addition, hair removal can cause minor skin lesions allowing bacteria and viruses (e.g. the HPV virus) to penetrate more easily.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4040320/

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