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Bikini Waxing Could Heighten Risk Of Acquiring STD, Study Finds

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A new study reveals that bikini waxing and other forms of grooming could heighten the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted disease.

According to HealthDay, people who frequently groom their pubic hair are three to four more times likely to contract an STD, such as herpes, human papillomavirus or syphilis.

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"Grooming is linked to a heightened self-reported sexually transmitted disease risk, and for those who groom frequently or remove all of their hair often, the association is even higher," lead researcher Dr. Charles Osterberg, an assistant professor of urology and surgery at the University of Texas Dell Medical School, told HealthDay.

Researchers surveyed 7,580 Americans, aged 18 to 65. They asked them about their grooming practices, sexual behavior and history of STDs.

The study showed that 74 percent of respondents groomed their pubic hair before and that 84 percent of women and 66 percent of men tried it at least once.

Seventeen percent of the groomers were identified as "extreme" as they removed all of their pubic hair more than 11 times a year, according to HealthDay. The study found that 22 percent were labeled as "high-frequency" groomers as they trimmed their pubic hair daily or weekly and only 10 percent of groomers were in both categories.

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Researchers found that "extreme" groomers had a quadrupled risk of contracting an STD, while "high-frequency" groomers had a 3.5-fold increased risk.

Overall, the study found there was an 80 percent increased risk of an STD infection in anyone who reported having groomed at all.

Researchers told HealthDay they believe those groomers were high risk because infections might spread more easily due to tiny cuts, scrapes and skin tears from grooming.

"I would probably lean toward the idea that the grooming itself causes mild trauma to the skin, and essentially makes the skin more susceptible to the organisms when they're exposed," Dr. Dennis Fortenberry, professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, told HealthDay.

Osterberg added that people who groom are more likely to be sexually active.

"Grooming may be a proxy for higher levels of sexual activity," Osterberg explained to HealthDay.

The study also found that groomers were more likely younger and sexually active. They also had more sexual partners than those who didn't groom. "Extreme" groomers had the highest number of sexual partners.

The study was published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infection.

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