More women are shaving their pubic hair down below for hygiene reasons but doctors said this grooming practice poses health risks.

A research team sought out to analyze the trend of this grooming habit as well as the motivations associated with it. Over 3,300 women aged 18 to 64 years old were asked about their pubic hair grooming habits. The survey also gathered information on the women's income level, education, relationship status and geographic locations to understand if these affect their grooming habits.

Approximately 60 percent of the participants said their main reason for shaving down south is hygiene. Unfortunately, pubic hair removal does not guarantee cleanliness. In fact, hair removal naturally aggravates and irritates the leftover hair follicles. It can also leave small wounds and increased occurrence of abscess and staph boils.

The warm, moist environment in the nether region, combined with the irritation left by the shaving process, becomes an ideal setting for bacterial pathogens to breed. According to physician Dr. Kevin Pho, the most common bacteria that can grow in this setting are methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Staphylococcus aureus and Group A Streptococcus.

The researchers found that 62 percent of the participants get rid of all their pubic hair down south. In terms of methods, 61 percent do this by shaving while 12 percent use electric razors. About 17.5 percent of the women who go bald down below use scissors while 4.6 percent opt for the waxing treatment.

Age is also a factor. Findings showed that women aged 45 and beyond 55 years old were less likely to groom their privates compared with women aged 18 to 24.

The study also found that women who went to college or those who have a bachelor's degree are more likely to shave their pubic hair or groom their nether regions. They do this either by trimming, shaving or waxing.

While state of relationship and geographic location were not associated with a woman's likelihood to groom, partner preference can impact a woman's grooming habits. For instance, if their partners didn't groom or don't like the habit, women were also less likely to shave or wax down below.

Interestingly, the types of sexual activity, gender of sexual partner and frequency of sex didn't affect grooming habits, but income seemed to be at play. Women with a yearly salary of more than $100,000 were 22 percent more likely to groom their privates compared with women with an annual income of just $50,000 or less.

"Our study is important for health care professionals because grooming behaviors reflect cultural norms and it shows that women have diverse motivations that are not universal," said senior author Benjamin Breyer, M.D., from the University of California San Francisco's Department of Urology and of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

The research was released in the JAMA Dermatology journal on June 29.

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