image of a person with long red hair laying on their stomach reading a book outside while they sun their perineumShare on Pinterest
Photo editing by Wenzdai Figueroa

Wellness trends seem to leave as quickly as they come. But one technique that people can’t stop talking about is perineum sunning.

Yes, that perineum, aka “the area we cover in our underwear between our pubic bone and anal cavity,” says Tanya Kormeili, MD, a board certified dermatologist in Santa Monica, California.

“More specifically,” Kormeili adds, it’s the “space between the anus and scrotum in the male and between the anus and vulva in the female.”

“This area hosts our blood vessels and nerves that provide sensation and nutrition to the genitals,” Kormeili explains.

Popularized by influencers and the odd celebrity, perineum sunning is said to have derived from an ancient Taoist practice.

But, seeing as it involves exposing a private and delicate area to the sun, it has proven to be pretty controversial.

So, if you’re planning to try it out, there are a few things you should know.

It’s not too hard to imagine what perineum sunning looks like.

It involves exposing your backside to the sun for a short period of time.

Some people lie on their back with their legs spread wide in the air. Others face away from the sun and lean over so the rays have direct access to their perineum.

Of course, the idea is to do it naked, meaning perineum sunning is best done in a private space.

And according to the people who practice it, the point of this routine is to give your body an intense dose of vitamin D.

In other words, a big energy boost.

People who practice perineum sunning say there’s a long list of health and wellness benefits.

The main one is the aforementioned energy boost.

“In a mere 30 seconds of sunlight on your butthole, you will receive more energy… than you would in an entire day being outside with your clothes on,” one perineum sunner said in an Instagram video.

Others say perineum sunning can stop qi — or life force energy — leaking from the body, inviting prana — or solar energy — into the body instead.

This is said to result in a number of things, including improved sleep and concentration, and increased creativity.

Some even say they have a healthier libido, as the technique is said to regulate hormone function in the sex organs.

Not at all.

Your body does create vitamin D from sunlight, and vitamin D is needed to support everything from bones and teeth to the immune system.

But you can enjoy this benefit without having to take off your clothes.

As Susan Bard, MD, a board certified dermatologist in Brooklyn, New York, explains, the likes of increased energy and improved sleep “are the benefits of short sun exposure, regardless of location.”

“There is no scientific evidence that supports exposing the perineum specifically,” Bard adds.

Wellness influencers say perineum sunning is practiced in Taoism.

Taoism is an ancient Chinese philosophy that believes humans should live in harmony with the Tao, or “the way.”

This means living a balanced life that’s compassionate and at one with nature.

It’s true that Taoists place importance on the perineum. They refer to it as Hui Yin, or the Gate of Life and Death.

One Taoist book says closing this gate, by contracting the pelvic floor and tightening the perineum, “prevents leakage of sexual essence/generative energy and preserves it so that it may be transformed into vital life force energy and spirit energy.”

Although Taoists view the perineum as a vital part of the body, exposing this region to the sun appears to be more of a modern-day belief.

The Tao of Sexology” — a book written in 1986 by Dr. Stephen T. Chang — does highlight a Sun Worship exercise similar to the technique used by some perineum sunners.

But the author doesn’t mention energy, instead saying “sunlight has excellent germicidal qualities, and exposure to the sun will help keep the anal and vaginal areas healthy and free of germs.”

People who regularly sun their perineum say you should only do it for between 30 seconds and 5 minutes.

But experts view the practice as unsafe.

“The skin of the perineum is some of the thinnest, most vulnerable, and sensitive skin in the body,” Bard explains.

Therefore, the biggest worry is the potential development of skin cancer.

“Our skin reacts to UV exposure the same way, whether it’s [via the] perineum or face,” Kormeili says. “UV exposure can cause DNA damage that causes skin cancer formation.”

In fact, Kormeili notes that she’s treated skin cancers that have affected this part of the body.

Painful sunburn is one concern. But skin cancer is, of course, the biggest risk.

“This practice is especially worrisome,” says dermatologist Angelo Landriscina, MD. “It compounds on the skin cancer risks presented by the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.”

HPV, he says, is “a major risk factor” for squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in the anus and genital area.

Combine the presence of HPV with UV exposure to your perineum, and you could “be creating the perfect storm for the development of SCC.”

Landriscina also points out that “SCCs that arise in the anogenital region tend to be more aggressive.”

Landriscina adds that they also have “a higher rate of metastasis, meaning they can take root in other organs, leading to serious complications and even death.”

If you’re still into the idea of perineum sunning, apply sunscreen to the area — just as you would elsewhere.

Use a broad-spectrum formula with at least SPF 30. Apply 15 minutes before you expose your perineum to the sun.

It’s also worth avoiding the sun at its strongest time, which is usually between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Landriscina doesn’t recommend the practice for anyone, especially people with genital HPV.

Kormeili says that people with lighter skin or a family history of skin cancer are also particularly at risk.

However, Kormeili adds, “Melanoma — the most lethal of skin cancers — can occur on any skin type.”

Bard, meanwhile, is clear in her viewpoint. “I don’t think anyone should try it,” she states.

There are a number of safer ways to enhance your well-being and overall health. From supplements to regular exercise, here are a few options.

If you’re looking for a spiritual connection

Meditation and breathing exercises are a great way to enhance spiritual wellness. Try practicing each day for a calmer mind. Combine with positive thinking and spending time in nature for an extra spiritual boost.

If you want to feel more creative or artistic

Give yourself room to breathe. Spend time away from technology and in different settings. Note down any ideas that come to you. Challenge yourself to encourage creative thinking.

If you want more energy

Simple ways to boost your energy levels all revolve around general health principles. Ensure you get enough sleep each night. Exercise regularly. Consume a balanced diet with plenty of water.

If you want better sleep

Get into a relaxing bedtime routine. Stay away from bright lights and technology an hour before you go to bed. Avoid caffeine and heavy meals at nighttime.

If you want a higher libido

Herbal remedies like ginseng may help, but stress-relieving rituals such as yoga and meditation can also work. And don’t forget to get plenty of rest too.

If you want more vitamin D

Spending time in the sun and eating more fatty fish, seafood, and fortified foods can boost your body’s vitamin D levels. If you’re worried that you’re deficient, get a blood test and take a supplement if needed.

If you want to boost your cognitive function

Again, basic things like exercise and sleep can work wonders for your brain, including memory and decision making skills.

It’s also important to challenge yourself regularly, whether that’s through problem-solving or stimulating activities, like reading or visiting museums.

If you want to regulate your hormones

Dietary changes can help balance your hormones. Ensure you’re eating plenty of protein and fiber, and avoid excessive sugar and refined carbs. Try to reduce your stress levels, too, through exercising or other relaxing means.

Although perineum sunning may feel relaxing and energizing to some, the practice comes with significant risks.

For the sake of your health, it’s best to stick to safer well-being methods like meditation and regular walks in the sun.

But if you really want to try it, ensure you use plenty of SPF where the sun doesn’t usually shine.

Lauren Sharkey is a U.K.-based journalist and author specializing in women’s issues. When she isn’t trying to discover a way to banish migraines, she can be found uncovering the answers to your lurking health questions. She has also written a book profiling young female activists across the globe and is currently building a community of such resisters. Catch her on Twitter.