Recently, the University of California, San Francisco released the results of a study that implied that shaving and waxing increase the chance of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) 2 to 4 times, depending on the frequency of hair removal. Today, I’m going to clarify why hair removal increases the chance of STDs and how this research helps people to be safe when it comes to pubic hair removal.
First of all, STDs are caused by the transfer of microorganisms (viruses or microbes) from one person to another. No one can get an STD from a healthy partner. To get an STD, one of the sexual partners must carry it; otherwise, there is little to no risk. In most cases, the STD microorganism has to pass from one person to another during sexual intercourse. Most STD microorganisms die immediately or shortly after exposure to air or when they are out of the human body.
Our skin has several layers of protection and immunity against all microbes and viruses, including STDs. For a microorganism to pass into the skin, there must be damage to the skin and its protection system; otherwise, microorganisms cannot penetrate through normal, healthy skin.
During sexual intercourse, the skin of the penis and vagina rub onto each other and create microscopic tears and micro-wounds, allowing the microorganism the opportunity to transfer from skin to skin and cause an STD to spread. The friction is not just between the penis and vagina; it can be between pubic areas, and even in the scrotal region of the male partner.
Shaving, waxing, and other temporary hair removals can increase the chances of STDs in two different ways: either directly, by creating micro-cuts and irritations on the surface of the skin, or a few days after hair removal, by scratching and irritating the skin with newly-grown, bristly, sharp-tipped hairs. Any temporary hair removal, either shaving or waxing, irritates the external layers of the skin and creates microscopic wounds and cuts. Even waxing and sugaring can create micro-cuts on the side of hair follicles from where the hair is removed from the skin.
Having sex right after shaving and waxing increases the chance of transferring sexually transmitted infections (STIs) from one partner to another because microscopic open wounds let the microorganism pass through the protecting layers of skin.
Sharp, bristly hairs that grow after waxing and shaving are even more important than micro-tearing after shaving and waxing. A day or two after shaving, and one week or ten days after waxing and sugaring, hair erupts onto the surface of the skin. The tips of these newly-grown hairs are sharp and act like hundreds of thousands of tiny needles. Through friction during sex, these sharp hairs penetrate and irritate the skin of the partner and create micro-trauma and irritation through which germs can pass through the skin and cause illness.
Does pubic hair prevent STDs?
There is no evidence that pubic or genital hair can act as a protective barrier during sex. In normal sex, with or without a condom, there is enough movement and body contact that, like it or not, the skin of each partner will be in contact. Who would dare assume that growing out their pubic hair would be enough to prevent sickness when having sex with someone with an STD? That would be a big, costly mistake that could leave you with regret for the rest of your life.
Is there any difference between men and women concerning hair removal and STDs?
The inside of the vagina is more delicate and easily irritated and, thus, is more prone to the penetration of STD microorganisms, but it doesn’t mean that men are safer. The skin of the penis is also among the thinnest skin in the body. There is no difference between men and women in terms of micro-cuts, irritation, and transferring STDs. Both are equally vulnerable.
If your partner has STDs, it will spread to you, with or without pubic hair. You should not have sex with someone who has STDs with the hope that your long pubic hair will protect you against STD infection.
There are some questionable points in this research. People who have sex with random people or change their partners often are at a higher risk for STD infection. Among people who have random sex, those who shave their pubic areas regularly most likely are seeking more opportunities to have sex. This research sends a potentially dangerous message to the public, that if you leave your pubic hair to grow, you are protected against STDs. Since that is not true, this practice is highly risky and dangerous.