Who doesn’t love showing off a natural, sunkissed glow? Tanning is excellent for helping you both look and feel your best, at least when done safely.
Unfortunately, some areas of the body may not enjoy all of that sun exposure, despite what social media may try to convince you. We’re here to dispel some myths surrounding perineum sunning and give you five facts to consider before deciding if you want to try it for yourself.
What Is Perineum Sunning?
Before we discuss the facts, we realize there may be a fair amount of people out there who have no idea what we’re talking about. What exactly is perineum sunning (or butthole sunning as seen on a certain social media app)?
Essentially, perineum sunning is a pop culture way of saying that you’re sunbathing your taint — that small piece of skin between your anus and your genitals (no matter how you identify). If you still can’t picture how this works, just think of ways to expose that area to sunlight.
Some people prefer to lay on their stomachs and hold their butt cheeks apart, while others lay on their backs with their legs in the air. The goal is to get that sunlight directly onto your perineum for between 30 seconds of sunlight and five minutes, although people are split on how often you should do it to get the reported health benefits.
The concept of perineum sunning first hit social media in late 2019 and has been going strong since, but the reality of this skincare trend is far less sunny. Let’s talk facts.
1. The Benefits of Perineum Sunning Are All Anecdotal
First and foremost, it is entirely anecdotal when we talk about the benefits of perineum sunning. Very little research has been done on the subject, and the available studies don’t find evidence to support any popular claims.
There isn’t any proof that the practice originates in ancient Taoist practices or tradition either, a statement that has been making the rounds on social media. While people who practice Taoism believe that the perineum is a vital part of the human body, the concept of perineum sunning isn’t based on any Taoist history we could find.
So why all the hype? Practitioners of perineum sunning claim its primary benefits include the ability to boost energy levels, improve sleep and the circadian rhythm, increase creativity, and even amp up your sex drive, citing the Tao of Sexology.
Some connect perineum sunning to intangible benefits like added success and positivity or even cleansing the genital area of bad vibes and replacing them with metaphysical sexual energy. Although social media wellness influencers are adamant about how the practice has helped them, there is still no evidence of any real cause and effect involved — it’s likely just a placebo.
There is at least a glimmer of truth in at least one element of perineum sunning, although it is not explicitly stated. When we expose our bare skin to sunlight, our body can turn cholesterol into a crucial vitamin — vitamin D.
Also known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is responsible for more than you may think! It helps protect the skin, supports calcium in creating and maintaining strong bones, and may even reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.
However, there is no proof that you can get your daily dose of vitamin D by exposing your perineum to the sun more than any other part of your body, and you may be better off just taking a supplement.
2. The Perineum Is More Delicate Than You Think
The perineum is some of the thinnest, most vulnerable skin on the entire body. Because of its delicate nature, you must take care of it as best you can.
For example, if you use a prostate massager or enjoy penetrative anal play, proper lubrication is non-negotiable. Without it, you can experience discomfort, pain, or even tearing (which can lead to the added risk of infection).
The skin is also sensitive to touch, as the area has numerous nerve endings. Even having the perineum brushed up against can be too much for some people, although the area is frequently used for external prostate massage (with the proper technique).
When you consider how sensitive and delicate the perineum is, it makes sense that you wouldn’t want to do anything that could potentially harm it, right? There may not be a lot of skin there, but there is the possibility of a lot of damage if you’re not careful.
3. Perineum Sunning Does Involve Risk
Because the perineum is such a sensitive area, exposing it to direct sunlight comes with plenty of risks.
Think about your body. If you were to go out into the sun without sunscreen, which areas would burn the quickest? If you’re like most people, you notice your forehead, cheeks, ears, and nose turning red far quicker than your forearms.
While this does have something to do with how close those areas are to the sun (and what you’re doing outside, especially if you’re spending time in or around the water), it is also because those areas of skin are far thinner.
Now, think about how it feels when you get sunburnt. Uncomfortable, right? Plus, the healing process involved with even a mild sunburn can get itchy, peel, and be downright painful. It doesn’t sound like a situation you want to invite in an area you can’t reach well or politely touch in public.
Many people also forget about the perineum when they do home health screenings. After all, it’s not an area visible when you look in the mirror (without some contortion, that is). Unfortunately, that can mean not catching the signs of an issue until it has advanced.
We strongly urge everyone, whether practicing perineum sunning or not, to check the area regularly (especially as part of your home prostate cancer screening).
4. Perineum Sunning Is Especially Risky In a Few Specific Circumstances
The primary risks associated with perineum sunning apply to everyone, but a few categories of people need to steer clear of this wellness trend. The first group is anyone diagnosed with genital HPV, or human papillomavirus, an incredibly common sexually transmitted infection (STI).
HPV impacts millions of people every year, and there are hundreds of different strains that cause a variety of signs and symptoms. Of those strains, medical professionals consider a handful of them “high risk,” meaning they have a greater likelihood of becoming cancerous in the future.
But how does this impact whether or not it’s a good idea to tan your taint? While direct ultraviolet radiation to any area of your skin can increase your risk of skin cancer like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma (especially chronic exposure without sunscreen), those with high-risk strains of HPV are even more vulnerable.
The combination can be a one-two punch and definitely not worth the anecdotal benefits of perineum sunning. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation from the sun also increases your chance of having a herpes (HSV) outbreak.
The same situation applies to anyone with a family history of melanoma or people with lighter skin who are already at a higher risk for developing this deadly form of cancer. Although the benefits sound convincing, they’re not worth risking your future health.
Always wear sunscreen, especially if you’re spending more than just a few minutes outside, to protect yourself — the effects of UV radiation add up over time, especially if you’re already more at risk.
5. There Are Alternative Ways To Achieve the Benefits of Perineum Sunning Without the Added Risk
So, what can you do to boost your energy, improve your sex drive, and sleep better? And how can you do that naked?
While there aren’t any magic cures for feeling run down or not in the mood, there are ways to support your body so that you have more energy left for the more pleasurable things in life. If you’re also looking for ways to involve your perineum (without exposing it to direct sunlight, of course), we strongly recommend heading out of your comfort zone and trying a prostate massager.
Prostate massage is for anyone with a prostate, regardless of gender identity or sexuality. The prostate is packed full of nerve endings, so it’s gained the nickname of the “P-spot,” the equivalent of the G-spot.
When you use a prostate massager, you stimulate those nerve endings to create pleasure. The orgasms that can come from prostate massage have been described as full-body, mind-blowing experiences. Worth a shot, right? You won’t know until you try!
Meditation is also highly beneficial if your ultimate goal is to form a more connected relationship with your body. There are plenty of ways to meditate, including mindfulness, loving-kindness, and focused meditation. Still, the result is the same — a much stronger awareness of what is happening with your body physically and emotionally. Plus, you can do it naked if you want!
Sleep is a more complex issue to address and requires more than just a few minutes of perineum sunning. There are numerous reasons for not getting enough sleep or not waking up well rested in the morning, and some of them require medical intervention to treat and manage appropriately. Certain sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, can also be dangerous — always take sleep issues seriously, especially if they become a regular pattern for you.
Focus on Your Health
Social media always boasts new and exciting ways to boost your health and wellness. While we love the idea of finding the drive and inspiration to take better care of yourself, it’s essential not to be drawn into the hype and to do your research before trying any new trends.
Although it may not be post-worthy, focusing on your health the “old-fashioned” way will offer you safer, more consistent results.
- Drink plenty of water. Our bodies are around 60 percent water, so we must get enough water to support them properly. Substitute one of your daily sodas or teas for a water bottle, and try to drink a glass with dinner. Although your goal should eventually be to drink around eight glasses of water a day, ease into it (especially if you’re not a great water drinker).
- Eat a well-balanced diet. The foods we choose to put in our bodies also play a significant role in maintaining (or improving) our health and wellness. Diets full of overly processed foods and sugar are bad for our bodies and mental health. Focus on increasing the number of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy protein, and complex carbohydrates (like whole grains) you enjoy daily to feel better overall.
- Get regular check-ups. Even the best self-care isn’t a substitute for regular check-ups from a medical professional, especially if you have a prostate. While home prostate cancer screenings can be beneficial, there’s no replacement for an annual screening. But don’t wait to bring up issues at your yearly exam. Make an appointment if you notice any unusual signs or symptoms instead of putting them off.
- Exercise regularly. For most of us, exercise tends to fall toward the bottom of the list of things we need to do. There isn’t time, you don’t enjoy it, or you don’t know where to start and feel intimidated by the entire process. However, exercise (even just taking a long walk with the dog a few times a week) can improve your physical health while also releasing endorphins that can make you feel better mentally. You don’t have to run a marathon to get the benefits; setting aside time for self-care is always a good decision.
The Bottom Line
Perineum sunning may be making the rounds on TikTok and Instagram, but the trend isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Although having increased energy, a stronger sex drive, and better sleep sounds fantastic, the potentially increased risk of skin cancer and other health concerns far outweigh the benefit.
We strongly urge you to explore other options to achieve the same effects without getting sunburnt in uncomfortable places.
Public Interest in a Potentially Harmful, Non–Evidence-Based “Wellness” Practice: Cross-Sectional Analysis of Perineum Sunning | Journal of Medical Internet Research
Sunlight and Vitamin D | PubMed
STD Facts - Human papillomavirus (HPV) | CDC
Melanoma Skin Cancer | Understanding Melanoma | American Cancer Society