Pubic hair grooming has become increasingly popular among both men and women around the world. However, according to a recent report, this widespread trend may come at a cost: Pubic hair grooming is linked to a heightened risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection (STI), which may cause you to think twice about using a razor on your nether regions.

According to the study, published online in in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, men and women who groom their pubic hair are more likely to report having an STI in their lifetime, including herpes, HPV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia or HIV. This association remained even after the researchers adjusted for other factors, such as a person’s age and number of sexual partners, Time reported.

Read: Your Hair Down There: 5 Ways Your Pubic Hair Affects Your Health

The study was based on the grooming habits and sexual health histories of 7,470 volunteers. According to a recent press statement, of these respondents, 74 percent reported to have groomed their pubic hair at least once in their lives, with 84 percent of women doing this, and 66 percent of men. In addition, 17 percent of groomers were classified as “extreme groomers,” removing all their pubic hair more than 11 times a year. A total of 22 percent of groomers were classified as “high frequency,” trimming their pubic hair daily or weekly. An electric razor was the most common grooming tool among men (42 percent), while a manual razor was more common among women (61 percent). The respondents' age, sexual activity frequency, and total lifetime number of sexual partners were also recorded.

Results showed that 13 percent (943) of respondents said they had had at least one of the following: herpes; human papilloma virus (HPV); syphilis; molluscum; gonorrhea; chlamydia; HIV; or pubic lice. Individuals who groomed their pubic hair were 80 percent more likely to have had one of these STIs than those who did not groom. In addition, the more often an individual groomed, and the more extreme their grooming habits, the higher their risk of contracting an STI. The only exception to this was the frequency of pubic lice, which was higher in those who did not frequently groom their pubic hair. This is most likely because grooming makes it harder for lice to breed and survive.

The reason for the heightened STI rate among pubic hair groomers is not entirely clear. It may be that grooming may cause tiny tears that make it easier for bacteria and viruses to pass through the skin. On the other hand, grooming may increase an individual's sexual activity, which could in turn increase their risk for contracting an STI.

Source: Osterberg EC, Gaither TW, Awad MA. Correlation between pubic hair grooming and STIs: results from a nationally representative probability sample. Sexually Transmitted Infections . 2016

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