From the metrosexual’s early foray into light trimming to the porn-star-bald-as-a-coot look of today, it turns out our love of messing with our pubes could actually be bad for us.
Shaving, trimming, or otherwise grooming pubic hair may be associated with an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), according to a study of more than 7,500 American men and women, published in Sexually Transmitted Infections.
Left - It seems it maybe better to be a cheeky monkey than as bald as a coot!
‘Extreme groomers’ - sounds like a Louis Theroux documentary - those who remove all their pubic hair at least 11 times a year are most at risk.
The study, although observational in nature, suggests a potential link between frequent, intense pubic hair grooming and increased exposure to a host of STIs.
“Such a relation is plausible because the act of grooming with razors or shavers causes epidermal microtears, which may permit epithelial penetrance by bacterial or viral STIs,” E. Charles Osterberg of the University of Texas and colleagues wrote in their study.
“Irrespective of the underlying mechanism—whether a casual relation or statistical association—understanding the possible link between pubic hair grooming and STI acquisition could be useful for developing strategies to reduce STI rates.”
Osterberg and colleagues surveyed 7,580 men and women, 74 percent of whom reported at least some pubic hair grooming. The researchers found that groomers were often younger and more sexually active than non-groomers, and that those ‘extreme groomers’ reported the greatest number of sexual partners.
The researchers concluded that any type of grooming is associated with an 80 percent increased risk of contracting any of eight STIs evaluated, including HIV, herpes, gonorrhea, and genital lice.
Extreme grooming was associated with a 3.5- to four-fold increased risk, especially for cutaneous - relating to the skin - STIs, such as herpes and HPV.
Because of the study’s observational design, it is impossible to determine causation based on these results. And although the authors attempted to control for lifetime sexual partners and other confounding variables, it remains possible that pubic hair grooming is a marker not of increased STI risk, but of increased likelihood of engaging in risky sexual behaviors. “Several mechanisms may work together to explain our findings,” the authors wrote. “For instance, our stronger findings for cutaneous STIs may be explained by both microtears and residual confounding.”
There are a lot of variables here. The people who admitted to trimming their pubes were younger and more sexually active and the extreme groomers had the most sexual partners so increasing their risk. It could also be said that those in a monogamous relationship may not be as worried about being as tidy downstairs as those who are single and meeting more people more frequently.
But, let’s be honest, trimming down there isn’t easy. No matter what you use, body groomer, razor, waxing etc., there is always a possibility of nicks and tears and it makes physical sense that this could make you more vulnerable of exposure to an STI.
It’s funny how, over the last few years, guys became fixated on facial hair and growing it and downstairs went in the opposite direction. Looking at this study, there’s definitely an argument to being lazy.
I’ve never really liked the term ‘grooming’. It always felt more reflective of animal lovers than contemporary guys wanting to look their best. More Pets At Home than the modern, touchy-feely man, wouldn’t you say?
Walking past this hoarding on Covent Garden’s Earlham Street (left), a new business called Beast is opening that proclaims to be ‘changing the way men shop for beauty’. I asked the guy outside what was new, and he said it would be a one-stop place with all men’s grooming products in one place.
This isn’t new. The majority of men call it Superdrug or Boots. I'm being facetious. Yes, I know this will be higher-end, but there were previous attempts at this concept with a store on South Molton Street, which I can’t for the life of me remember the name of, and one on Bond Street, which, again, I’ve forgotten the name. They both closed a few years ago.
Many prospective businessmen look at the men’s grooming market as half of the adult population. This is far from the truth. Men’s grooming is a growing niche which seems to have flourished online. For big brands, such as Clinique, men’s represents about 5% of their business, so it’s still pretty small. That being said, the guys who are into it, are really into it, so, while a smaller number, they do splash the cash.
To compete with online this place needs to offer the theatre of retail, something new and great customer service and advice. Recommending products is so individual and subjective and many times guys don’t really need what their needs are, let alone why they need to pay a premium for something.
I’m not judging this place before I've seen it, but the term ‘beauty’ is new and for the first time feels right. The new softer, more confident and emotionally aware male is able to approach looking after themselves without pseudo-macho words to sprinkle their moisturising and eye creams with a pretension of overt masculinity.
Proving this point further, a new beauty and grooming destination for Generation Z and young Millennials is 'Very Good Light'. ‘Refining Male Beauty’, it is a space for guys aged 16-26 to share beauty tips. Founder, David Yi, says it’s “a safe haven and a non-judgemental space for guys to talk about manly things from all spectrums of manhood,”. This feels fresh. It’s a move on from that hard, Men’s Health type language that is all competitive and chest beating. This feels open and inclusive.
Finally, male beauty is here and it feels right.