We tend to engage in several pre-sex rituals between the time we agree to have sex and the time we actually have sex with our partner. Some of us will go to the bathroom to “freshen up” to see if any unruly hair is lurking through around our mouths, armpits, and even genitals. To avoid being compared to Chewbacca, we may awkwardly begin to shave in the bathroom right before sex.

But, should we really shave “down there” before getting down?

Lora Ivanova, co founder of myLAB Box, the first nationwide STI testing service, suggests women and men should avoid shaving their pubic hair to prevent contracting STIs.

“Shaving your genitals can drastically increase your chances of contracting an STI by as much as 440 percent. So, while personal grooming is often an aesthetic choice, it is important to understand that it is also a question of personal health,” she told Medical Daily .

Earlier this month, a study published in Sexually Transmitted Infections found men and women who groom their pubic hair are more likely to report having an STI in their lifetime, including herpes, HPV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia or HIV. This still held true even after the researchers accounted for other factors, such as a person’s age, and the number of sexual partners. The link between high STI rates among pubic hair groomers is unclear, but raises the idea that tiny tears from shaving may make it easier for bacteria and viruses to pass through the skin.

Pubic hair also has a purpose: to provide a cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasion and injury. This protects the skin from bacteria and other unwanted germs.

“Shaving and waxing, on the other side, can create many nearly invisible lacerations, leaving you even more susceptible to contact with bacteria and viruses,” said Ivanova.

The pubic areas and genitals more vulnerable to herpes infections due to the small wounds being exposed to viruses either carried by the mouth or genitals. Tiny open wounds combined with a warm, moist environment are a veritable paradise for bacteria. This could lead to the further spread of STIs.

If you must shave down there, Ivanova suggests to make sure you and your partner have been thoroughly tested for STIs to eliminate any risk.

“Then you can both not only look sexy but also stay safe,” she said.