As the Thanksgiving holiday weekend comes to a close, many of us are entering the darkest days of the year. With many parts of the country having fewer than ten hours of daylight per 24 hours, many of which are filled with rain, snow, sleet, or gray skies, the notion of getting some sun on a sandy beach becomes ever more enticing. Many people report being a bit down during this time of year, in part due to stressors of the holiday season, and in part due to the lack of natural sunlight. The entity Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a psychiatric disorder which presents itself annually during a specific time of year, which tends to be the winter months. It is thought, in part, to be triggered by absence of natural sunlight exposure, and one of the well-studied treatments with good outcomes has been use of light therapy mimicking that of sunlight to improve depression and even bipolar disorder. In addition, our bodies are able to synthesize the active form of Vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. We can’t do much of this during the darker months of the year.
Feeling the warm rays of sunshine, especially this time of year, can bring on a sense of comfort, health, relaxation and, dare I say, wellness. But a recent trend which has gone viral among the growing list of ridiculous pseud0-wellness fads has been sunning the perineum, the are of the body between the anus and the genitals. Instagram influencer (or micro-influencer, depending on who you ask) who uses the handle “MetaphysicalMeagan” and has over 25,000 followers, recently posted a photo of herself naked, perineum to the sky, entitled “Perineum Sunning.” She goes on to explain the so-called health benefits of this practice, which requires only 30-seconds of daily sun exposure to your delicate parts. (She prefers sunning for five minutes, to achieve maximal benefits). Some of these benefits include: surge of energy, better sleep, creativity, and “attracting your soul tribe.” To make it sound even more legitimate, she throws in the coveted terms of history and exotic, claiming it to be an “ancient Taoist practice.” The 1986 book “The Tao of Sexology” describes how sun exposure to the perineum can reduce bacteria and treat hemorrhoids. Many large and small media outlets, including Rolling Stone, had an immediate field day on taking a deep dive into this unproven wellness practice. Indeed, there is no research-driven evidence that this practice does anything to the perineum except warm it up for a bit, and maybe, if done regularly, increase risk of sun-induced skin cancers. The bacteria that thrive in the perineum are supposed to be there, and a bit of sunshine does nothing to their ecosystem, nor should it. As for curing hemorrhoids, no evidence for that either.
As with any practice that somehow offers rejuvenation of the perineum, if it sounds a bit off, it probably is. That said, if it makes you feel good, then go for it, knowing that the risks are not zero (skin cancer for one, and being cited for indecent exposure if done in public is no fun). This tenet goes for other practices that have come into the media such as the vaginal jade egg and vaginal steaming. The same issues can be said for these: if they make you feel better, go for it. The placebo effect is real, after all, and if engaging in these practices make you feel whatever it is you want to feel, then go right ahead. Just know that these practices also carry risks, including burns, skin damage, and infections.
Alternatively, you can save time, money, and your perineum and just keep your pants on.