Why You Shouldn't Try Perineum Sunning

It's riskier than you think.

There are a few "wellness" trends involving genitals that have popped up on the internet, from sitting over a pot of boiling water as a method of steaming the vagina to sticking jade eggs into your vagina for strengthening your pelvic floor muscles.

Another trend to add to that list is "perineum sunning," which is the act of a person exposing their genital areas to sunlight—but is it really a good practice to add to your wellness routine? We asked experts to weigh in on the use and concept of this practice.

What Made the Idea of Perineum Sunning Popular?

Perineum sunning was popularized through social media in October 2019 as a method of self-care. Researchers of a January 2021 JMIR Dermatology study said that it only took 24 hours for the practice to become mainstream.

The researchers also noted that there were Instagram posts indicating that the practice "would improve focus, augment hormonal regulation, increase libido, regulate circadian rhythm, and enhance health and longevity." The posts also mentioned that, in doing perineum sunning, no sunscreen was needed and equated 30 seconds of the practice to receiving a full day's amount of exposure to the sun.

What Are the Dangers of Perineum Sunning?

Your perineum is the super-thin area of skin and tissue between your vagina (or, in men, the penis) and the anus. However, you shouldn't be exposing it to sunlight, according to experts.

"As a dermatologist, I cannot recommend any sun exposure without sun protection," Nazanin Saedi, MD, department co-chair of the Laser and Aesthetics Surgery Center at Dermatology Associates of Plymouth Meeting, told Health. "These areas just like other areas of the body do need sun protection and clothing tends to provide that."

David E. Bank, MD, founder of Mount Kisco's The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, took it a step further: "It's actually dangerous," Dr. Bank explained. "This skin is particularly sensitive."

The authors of the JMIR Dermatology study also said skin exposure to the sun's UV rays increases the risk of basal or squamous cell carcinomas (types of lesion-based skin cancer) and melanoma (pigment-based cancer) and stated that "melanomas in less visible areas, such as the buttocks and perineum, have worse prognosis…" Overall, you'd be better off not attempting the activity.

Ways To Support Your Wellbeing

Both physicians and the study authors pointed out that there is no scientific evidence to support that this behavior promotes any sort of wellbeing.

Instead, you can attain support regarding your overall health through other safer options like "relaxing, meditation, and mindfulness," Dr. Saedi said. The American Heart Association (AHA) also indicated that some of the following options might be helpful for self-care:

  • Spending time alone or with a pet
  • Getting fresh air with a walk outside
  • Unplugging from social media
  • Talking with friends

Additionally, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) offered some other activities that could be beneficial for your health, such as getting regular exercise; eating well and staying hydrated; aiming for quality sleep; and focusing on positivity and gratitude.

If you're truly worried about your vitamin D intake, you may want to consider taking a vitamin—not totally exposing yourself to the sun. "The recommended amount of vitamin D is easy to get from a healthy diet or supplements," Anna Karp, DO, a dermatologist at NYU Langone Health, told Health.

Whenever you do end up in sunlight, however, you'll want to abide by guidelines recommended by the FDA: Spend a minimal amount of time in the sun; use sunscreen for protection, preferably one labeled "broad spectrum" and a minimum SPF of 15 (or 30 if you have fair skin); reapply sunscreen every two hours or more frequently; and wear clothing to cover skin exposed to the sun.

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