Manscaping may keep you looking and smelling fresh, but it can also be dangerous—and we’re not talking about wince-inducing razor nicks.
Trimming or shaving your pubic hair, for instance, may increase your chances of contracting STIs like herpes, HPV, genital warts, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and even HIV, according to a recent study from the University of California at San Francisco. The theory behind this is that if you nick yourself while grooming before having sex, then rub up on someone with an STI, that STI can enter into your body through those cuts. It should be noted, however, that this rise in STIs may not be directly from manscaping per se—recent research suggests that people who are grooming their nethers on a regular basis are having more sex than ungroomed folk, and therefore are being more exposed to STIs.
Additionally, manscaping can increase your chances of contracting a bacterial infection: With more and more men removing their body hair, the number of pubic hair-grooming injuries increased fivefold from 2002 to 2010, and those injuries—like any injury—are prone to infection, especially in moist bacteria havens like the pubic area. This said, the chances of actually contracting an STI or an infection from shaving your pubes are relatively slim, provided you use care when removing your body hair and properly treat any nicks and cuts that may occur.
The good news for regular manscapers, meanwhile, is that clinics have noticed a sharp decline in the occurrence of pubic lice—better known as “crabs”—in people who remove some or all of their pubic hair, as crabs aren’t designed to survive on bare skin.
When it comes down to it, it’s really up to you which path is the right one: Lessen the risk of crabs, or lessen the risk of other infections. It’s basically the worst choose-your-own-adventure book ever.