The influence of sexual orientation and sexual role on male grooming-related injuries and infections

Thomas W. Gaither, Matthew Truesdale, Catherine R. Harris, Amjad Alwaal, Alan W Shindel, Isabel E. Allen, Benjamin N. Breyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Aim: Pubic hair grooming is a common practice in the United States and coincides with prevalence of grooming-related injuries. Men who have sex with men (MSM) groom more frequently than men who have sex with women (MSW). We aim to characterize the influence of sexual orientation and sexual role on grooming behavior, injuries, and infections in men in the United States. Methods: We conducted a nationally representative survey of noninstitutionalized adults aged 18-65 residing in the United States. We examined the prevalence and risk factors of injuries and infections that occur as a result of personal grooming. Results: Of the 4,062 men who completed the survey, 3,176 (78.2%) report having sex with only women (MSW), 198 (4.9%) report sex with men (MSM), and 688 (16.9%) report not being sexually active. MSM are more likely to groom (42.5% vs. 29.0%, P<0.001) and groom more around the anus, scrotum, and penile shaft compared with MSW. MSM receptive partners groom more often (50.9% vs. 26.9%, P=0.005) and groom more for sex (85.3% vs. 51.9%, P<0.001) compared with MSM insertive partners. MSM report more injuries to the anus (7.0% vs. 1.0%, P<0.001), more grooming-related infections (7.0% vs. 1.0%, P<0.001) and abscesses (8.8% vs. 2.5%, P=0.010), as well as lifetime sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (1.65 vs. 1.45, P=0.038) compared with MSW. More receptive partners report grooming at the time of their STI infection (52.2% vs. 14.3%, P<0.001) compared with insertive partners. Conclusions: Sexual orientation, and in particular sexual role, may influence male grooming behavior and impact grooming-related injuries and infections. Anogenital grooming may put one at risk for an STI. Healthcare providers should be aware of different grooming practices in order to better educate safe depilatory practices (i.e., the use of electric razors for anogenital grooming) in patients of all sexual orientations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-640
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Grooming
  • HIV
  • Injury
  • Men who have sex with men (MSM)
  • Sexual role
  • Sexually transmitted infection (STI)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Reproductive Medicine


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