“Something has gone terribly wrong in society and I am on a journey to figuring out what it is,” alternative health influencer Carnivore Aurelius told VICE.
Aurelius used to follow what he calls “mainstream health advice.” In line with the kind of advice you’d find on any generic story on how to live better, he avoided red meat, ate his vegetables, and hid from the sun. But he claims he was still sick and miserable, suffered from skin issues, irritable bowel syndrome, and an autoimmune condition. He said doctors passed him around “like a beach ball” until he got fed up with their approach and took his health into his own hands. His Instagram account, with over 340,000 followers as of writing, records his exploration into alternative treatments.
He advocates for reducing exposure to blue light, drinking “better-quality” water, breathing through your nose, and meditating. One controversial practice he preaches is sunning one’s genitals, which he believes boosts hormone production—a claim various medical experts have refuted.
In 2019, the idea of sunning one’s perineum—the area between the anus and the genitals—went viral, in part thanks to one influencer’s post. In it, she claimed that just five minutes of sunning her “bum and yoni” gave her surges of energy and better sleep. She later clarified that she was sharing her own experience with the practice, and not saying that it was backed by scientific studies.
Aurelius is still one of many who do get naked in the sun, despite criticisms. He believes that sunning one’s genitals can improve energy, mood, libido, and fertility. “Nobody is suggesting that you should sit in the sun with your family jewels hanging out until they’re redder than a rare steak,” said Aurelius, who understands that exposure to sunlight can be harmful.
Meanwhile, Florida-based personal trainer Vito Aiello suns his genitals at least a few times a week, because he thinks sunlight improves his circadian rhythm, vitamin D and testosterone levels, and overall health.
Experts have said that while there are benefits to sunlight exposure, there’s no evidence that supports the practice of sunning the genital area, specifically. In another interview with VICE, urologist Seth Cohen said that there’s nothing in literature or medical knowledge that would lead experts to believe that any form of external light would raise testosterone levels. Cohen added that heat is harmful to the testicles, and that prolonged exposure to it could damage testicle tissue, lower sperm count, and be harmful to fertility. Other experts have also warned against the risks of perineum sunning, which they say include sunburn and cancer.
So why do some people keep doing it?
In some ways, this belief is a reflection of the deepening medical mistrust prevalent today.
“People are tired of being told what to do by doctors,” Aurelius said.
He added that this is something people have been doing for years, claiming that the practice of sunning the perineum has roots in Taoist tradition.
But sometimes, it doesn’t have anything to do with health.
Aurelius said he suns his genitals because it’s fun. “It’s a silly goose time, part of the antidote to our joyless, soul-sucking modern society.”
Aiello admitted that there’s an aesthetic aspect to it, too. “Even if sunning my genitals is not beneficial in regards to testosterone production, I would do it anyway, as I hate tan lines.”
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