10 Disgusting Beauty Treatments

10 Disgusting Beauty Treatments

How far are you willing to go to get the hot new look? Much of human history has been driven by the desire to present ourselves in our best light. As it turns out, there’s not much that people won’t do in their struggle to be attractive. Here are ten of the grossest things people have tried in the name of beauty.

10 Eel Exfoliation Bath

Eel Bath

Photo credit: Christopher Jones/REX via The Guardian

Some very expensive bubble baths leave you feeling slimy after you get out of the tub. Their manufacturers prefer to say “moisturized” — but for one treatment, “slimy” is definitely the word. To get that perfect glow in their skin, some people in China are taking baths filled with tiny eels.

Each eel is about the size of a pencil. They wriggle over the body and nibble at the dead skin covering it. This leaves the youthful-looking living skin underneath shining through. Unfortunately, the eels haven’t learned to differentiate between the skin on the outside and the internal membranes.

A gentleman wearing loose underwear in the eel bath felt a sharp pain and found that an eel had found its way into his penis. It took a three-hour surgery to remove the errant fish and prompted other countries to watch out for those looking to import the eels.

9 Radiation Therapy


Whenever a scientific discovery is made, there’s always a scramble to find a marketable use for it. Sometimes, this benefits mankind; sometimes, it leads people to smear their faces with radioactive elements.

The eerie glow of radiation made newly documented elements like radium and polonium seemed like ideal boosters for that healthy glow everyone wants. The mysterious radiation rays were quickly touted as cure for medical ailments and were also used in cosmetics. Radiation was added to face creams, soap, rouge, and powders. For those wanting extra sparkly teeth, there was radioactive toothpaste.

Of course, the downside to these radioactive products was that instead of health, they caused untold numbers of cancers. Sores and hair loss are common side effects of radiation poisoning, as well. Those who worked with radium developed bone necrosis and incurable cancers. This soon put an end to the fad for radioactive products.

8 Lead, Arsenic, And Mercury

Arsenic Complexion Wafers

While today’s must-have is a tan, which suggests we have the leisure to be continually on the beach, in the past, the reverse was the case. To have a tan showed that you spent your days toiling outside. To cultivate a pale face, you needed the money to stay indoors. Or you could take the shortcut of covering your face in white lead, as people have throughout history. The problems with this were not unknown even then. The lead would rot the skin, requiring ever more to be used to cover up the effects of the treatment. The skin would break open as it thinned. Lead also causes aggressiveness, headaches, vomiting, seizures, and eventually death — then you have the perfect pale flesh.

Those wanting to remove spots, freckles, and other skin problems could turn to another dangerous element. “Dr. James P. Campbell’s Safe Arsenic Complexion Wafers” promised to clear the complexion. Ironically, one of the organs hit hardest by arsenic poisoning is the skin. An overdose of arsenic can lead to hair loss, bloody vomit, diarrhea, and convulsions. But at least you won’t have freckles.

While those products are thankfully things of the past, there is a current vogue for everyone to appear with as light skin as possible. Skin lightening products very often contain mercury, an element which can lead to many horrible side effects, especially kidney problems. You may end up with a fashionably Western face but a deeply unfashionable dialysis machine.

7 Bee Stings

You should always be wary of following celebrity advice. Being pretty and a good actor does not make you a doctor. Gwyneth Paltrow has gone on record about her beauty treatments, and one of them has a sting in the tail.

The actress told an interviewer:

I’ve been stung by bees. It’s a thousands of years old treatment called apitherapy. People use it to get rid of inflammation and scarring. It’s actually pretty incredible if you research it. But, man, it’s painful.

The treatment is painful for Paltrow, but it can be deadly, and not just to the bees. One case of liver failure has been linked to apitherapy.

Those unwilling to be actually stung by bees can simply buy cosmetic products containing the venom. Not that it will do anything except speed the decline in bee populations and your bank balance.

6 Fish Pedicure

Fish Pedicure

Photo credit: BeautySchool.com

Fish aren’t picky eaters. If you dip your toes into a tank of Garra fish, they will quickly dart in and nibble off the dead skin from even the smelliest feet. They are toothless and usually stop at eating the tough outer skin, but there are reports of them taking their feeding frenzy too far and causing bleeding. While the risks of getting an infection from the fish is thought to be very low, there are dangers to dangling your feet in water used by both fish and other clients. Fungal infections could easily spread, and bacteria in the fish tank could cause boils.

Leaving aside the “ick” factor of being eaten by fish that live solely on other peoples’ stinky feet, some legal areas deem the fish to be unsanitary. One Arizona fish spa was shut down, as cosmetic products had to be disinfected and dried before reuse — obviously not an option with fish.

5 Tapeworm Diets

Losing weight should be easy. If you burn more calories than you consume, your weight goes down. But food is so delicious that many find reducing their caloric intake is too hard to do. So they look for ways to increase their calories burned (other than exercising, obviously).

One way of losing weight is to get yourself a friendly tapeworm to take up residence in your intestines. This worm will eat a portion of your food, and it will grow rather than your waistline. While there is evidence that people in the past sold pills which supposedly contained tapeworms, there are recent cases of people actually going through with it. Tapeworm infections cause weight loss and loss of appetite — but also pain, malnutrition, diarrhea, blindness, convulsions, and death.

4 Placenta

The placenta is an organ that develops in pregnant mammals to filter oxygen and nutrients to embryos and remove waste products. Most animals will eat the placenta after birth to regain its nutrients. Some humans do, too. Some aren’t content with leaving it at that, though.

Because of their association with youth and birth, some face creams include placenta in the hopes of it passing some of that goodness on to the user. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that they work. The most common form of placenta used comes from sheep, but those with deep pockets and no gag reflex can also buy creams with human placenta.

While placenta may not do much for the face, the side effects can be alarming. Its use in hair products has caused girls as young as 14 months old to begin to develop sexually due to the level of hormones it contains. Stopping use of the products reversed the effects.

3 Snails

Snail Treatment

Photo credit: Dennis Gray/AP via The Guardian

Snail facials are a beauty treatment in which live snails glide across your face. The trail of gel they leave behind is said to fight the signs of aging. Snails have been used for thousands of years to treat inflammation, so there may be something to it. Snail facial specialists say they reduce scars, acne, and stretch marks. There is no scientific confirmation of this, however — so perhaps wait before you plop some snails on your face.

For those who cannot stand the idea of snails rasping at their skin with their radula (a toothed, tongue-like structure) you can buy creams that contain snail gel. The snails exude the gel, which is said to be more effective when they are stressed. There is no information on how the makers of snail gel cream go about stressing out their snails, but it’s unlikely these creams are animal-friendly.

2 Bull Semen

In the crowded marketplace of cosmetics, you need something that separates you from the competition. One way of doing that is to reveal that the magic ingredient in your face mask and hair conditioner is bull semen.

The inventor of the semen hair treatment had been looking for a high-protein recipe and apparently thought the best option would be bull sperm. She comforts her customers by saying, “It really works. The semen is refrigerated before use and doesn’t smell. It leaves your hair looking wonderfully soft and thick.”

If you want the glamorous look without the mental images, Imprivo makes a range of products containing the coyly named BSP (Bull Seminal Plasma).

1 Foreskin Facials

“As smooth as a baby’s buttocks” is a common expression. Some cosmetics companies have taken that cliche and run with it. Taking the foreskins left over after baby boys are circumcised, they have turned human flesh into cash in the bank.

There are face creams which use the cells from foreskins to enrich their products with growth factors, collagen, and other proteins that are claimed to reverse the signs of aging. Because the foreskin contains stem cells, a single one can be grown in the lab to produce enough cells for thousands of treatments. This has not reduced the controversy around using them as an ingredient, especially among those who see circumcision as a form of genital mutilation.

For those who want the direct benefits of stem cells, it is now possible to have cells derived from foreskins injected into your face. The fibroblast cells reinforce the structure of the skin, it is claimed, and users say they detect improvements in their appearance. With each vial of cells costing around $1,000, though, you might hope for more dramatic results.

10 Places You Would Never Expect To Find Bacteria

10 Places You Would Never Expect To Find Bacteria

Humans share the Earth with a plethora of different bacteria, distant relatives of ours who inhabit a variety of different environments and perform countless functions — some of which we welcome, and some of which we fight against. It could be said, however, that it is the bacteria who are nice enough to share the Earth with us, considering there are roughly 5×10^30 bacteria on the planet — forming a total mass greater than that of all plants and animals combined.

We tend to think of them existing only in places where other life forms can be found, such as in our gut, the kitchen, forests, and ponds. However, plenty of bacteria require no such environment and can be found in some truly obscure and surprising places on this planet and beyond.

10Inside Solid Rock


It was long believed that one of the requirements for life to exist was sunlight. Even organisms not directly exposed to the Sun (such as those residing in your gut) would consume organic matter that at one point was synthesized with the help of sunlight.

Recently, however, this dogma has been called into question. A team of scientists investigating a South African gold mine has discovered bacteria over 1.5 miles below the ground that seem to subsist purely off of radioactive waste.

The uranium, thorium, and potassium in the surrounding rock formation seem to have just the right amount of energy to break down water molecules, which leads to the production of hydrogen peroxide and sulfates. The radiation breaks down the water molecules into two atoms of hydrogen and a single atom of oxygen, which combine with other water molecules to form hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide then reacts with pyrite (fool’s gold) to produce sulfate ions, which the bacteria feast upon with great relish.

And these lonely microbes seem to be in no rush to leave their rocky fortress. Whereas much of the bacteria we encounter on a daily basis — such as E. coli — divides almost daily, this rock-dwelling bacteria is estimated to divide between once a year and once every 300 years.

9The Cleanest Place On Earth: Nasa ‘Clean Rooms’


Photo credit: NASA

If you have ever given your kitchen or bathroom a thorough cleaning, you doubtless have walked away with a feeling of satisfaction, knowing that any living microbes that once were there have been eviscerated. Now imagine you work for NASA, and your job is to make the “clean rooms” (where everyone is required to walk around in triple-layer, sterilized body suits) as clean as possible. And NASA wants them really clean.

These rooms are what “hospital operating rooms are to patients,” says Mike Weiss, Hubble’s technical deputy program manager at Goddard. “Surgeons wear sterile gowns, gloves and masks during surgery, and operating rooms must be kept free of germs to keep patients healthy. In our case, [the spacecraft] is the patient.”

Anyone who enters must pass through a series of “lobbies,” the first of which contains special adhesive to remove dirt particles from shoes, the second of which provides a high-pressure air shower, and the third of which forces you to cover yourself from head to toe in protective clothing.

This painstaking procedure made it all the more upsetting when an entirely new genus of bacteria was discovered in not one, but two NASA clean rooms. Named Tersicoccus phoenicis (“Tersi” is Latin for clean), this bacterium has earned a reputation for outwitting the most intense industrial cleaners and sterilization techniques.

Scientists at NASA make sure to keep samples of this resilient creature on hand to compare it to any potential bacteria brought back from space.

8Sheets Of Ice


Photo credit: U.S. Ice Drilling

When we think of ice, we inevitably think of cold, which brings with it very little movement and therefore very little life. The freezer is where we put food for long-term storage not because we necessarily want to make more room in the refrigerator but because we want to slow down the various chemical processes that will cause the food to spoil.

This is why it is all the more surprising that large populations of bacteria have found a long-term home in some of the world’s largest glaciers — with some bacterial strains lasting for millions of years.

The Transantarctic Mountains in Antarctica contain the oldest known ice on Earth and are home to microbes that have lived there for millions of years. It is estimated that the entire microbial cell population encased in the ice sheets of Antarctica outnumber the human population of Earth more than 10,000 times over.

And now that the Earth is warming and the ice is melting, these little guys may soon be liberated into the ocean, where they will have to adapt to an unfamiliar but perhaps more hospitable environment.

7Boiling Water


Photo credit: CDC

Every boy scout knows that if you come across a natural source of water, the water must be boiled before consumption to remove any harmful bacteria. Be careful, however, the next time you take solace in this technique, since some bacteria, such as Clostridium botulinum, can survive in boiling water.

Clostridium botulinum, which is responsible for botulism (a serious paralytic condition caused by a nerve toxin that can enter the body either through food intake or an open wound), prefers environments with relatively little oxygen, which is why it can grow and live in the most unnerving places, such as in your camp kettle or along the inside of a sealed can.

Since a botulism diagnosis often comes with aggressive antibody treatment and a trip to the hospital, it is best to use bleach, sodium hydroxide, and extreme temperatures (around 120 degrees Celsius) when trying to eradicate this pesky beast.

6The Lowest Place On Earth


Photo credit: Scientific American

Any ocean enthusiast knows that the Mariana Trench is the most mysterious place in the ocean and perhaps the planet. Located to the east of the Philippines and north of New Guinea, the Mariana Trench is the deepest part of any ocean on Earth, with a maximum depth of roughly 11,000 meters. The search for new forms of life at the bottom of this black, mostly inaccessible cavern has been a major goal for oceanographers for years, and now, in the Challenger Deep (the lowest point of the Mariana Trench), researchers have found heterotrophic bacteria, which can sustain themselves in part from tiny bits of organic compounds found in particles that fall from high above.

Bacteria found in the ocean past the reach of sunlight (beginning around 100 meters below the surface) must break down compounds such as sulfur and ammonia for sustenance, which makes the presence of these heterotrophic bacteria all the more mysterious.

5The Upper Atmosphere


Photo credit: Gary Meek

Usually, when we think of bacteria, we think of them living somewhere in the animal kingdom, coexisting with and in some cases feasting off of organic matter. This is not the case, however, when it comes to a large microbe population that was recently discovered in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Although there are no life forms in our atmosphere on which to feast, there is plenty of carbon, which provides these gravity-defying bacteria with sustenance, even at altitudes of six miles or more above sea level. In fact, bacteria may make up roughly 20 percent of the small particles in the upper atmosphere at any given time.

Although it is not entirely clear how these bacteria made the unlikely journey into the atmosphere, scientists believe that high winds and alternating atmospheric pressures drove the little critters into the heavens, much like the process by which salt and dirt arrive in the same place.

4Your Eyeball


Although it is common knowledge that the human body contains multitudes of bacteria (in fact, a human body contains more bacterial cells than human cells), we like to think of these friendly bacteria as residing peacefully in our gut — carrying out their end of a symbiotic relationship by aiding in the digestion of food, as well as producing chemicals that help us squeeze every last drop of energy out of what we consume.

What we do not like to think about, however, is that a more sinister type of bacterium resides on our eyeball, specifically the conjunctiva — a mucus membrane covering the sclera of the eyeball. The bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeaehas seem to have an affinity for the human eyeball, and although our tears do their best to keep these little critters at bay by dispatching enzymes such as lysozyme, these defenses are not enough to rid the eyeball of them completely.

And yes, these bacteria are the same ones responsible for the chlamydia and gonorrhea infections, respectively. Best to keep those eyes clean.



If you are a seafood lover, you have inevitably fielded warnings about eating too much fish, due to a widespread fear that you may be ingesting too much mercury. A major culprit when it comes to mercury in fish may be a recently discovered strain of Antarctic bacteria. The bacterium, named Nitrospinia, seems to have an affinity for converting mercury to methylmercury, which is far more dangerous than mercury and has been known to cause developmental problems in children. After ingesting and converting the mercury into methylmercury, these pesky bacteria are consumed by a variety of different fish, which then end up on your dinner plate.

And since many of our most beloved fish dishes come from the Southern Ocean, this could be a major problem for seafood lovers, especially since more commercial fishermen are heading south to chase after depleting fish supplies.

2Your Glabela


Photo credit: Eye of Science/SPL

The glabela, more commonly known as the smooth section of skin between your eyebrows and above the nose, may seem like an unlikely home for bacteria since it lacks significant protection from the environment. However, being exposed for all the world to see is no deterrent for an especially monstrous-looking bacteria named Demodex folliculorum (also known as eyelash mites), which spend their days roaming around your forehead in search of carbon-containing matter. While these and the more commonly known Propionibacteria bacteria are generally harmless, they can occasionally cause an infection that leads to acne vulgaris. So the next time you discover a pimple between your eyes, you can blame these little guys.

1The Dead Sea


Photo credit: Hydra Institute

Given its name, the Dead Sea is understandably one of the last places one would go in search of life. This would be misguided, however, since although the extraordinarily salty water of the Dead Sea is inhospitable to most forms of life, some bacteria have discovered a loophole: freshwater springs.

Just within the last decade, several new forms of life have been discovered at the bottom of the Dead Sea — bacterial life that has become accustomed to both extreme salinity and fresh water (a necessary prerequisite for living in the Dead Sea, since the salinity of the water fluctuates so rapidly).

These prokaryote bacteria cling to the rocks at the bottom of the Dead Sea, as giant underwater craters shoot fresh water and sulfides into the surrounding water — forming a thin white film and proving wrong the notion that bacteria can only either survive in fresh or salt water environments, not both.

10 Mutant Genes That Could Make You Superhuman

10 Mutant Genes That Could Make You Superhuman

At some point, everyone has fantasized about being a superhero. Sure, the tights may be snug in some awkward places, but that’s a small price to pay to wield amazing powers against the forces of evil. Well, luckily, those dreams may be close to becoming reality. Geneticists are tracking down specific mutations responsible for some truly incredible abilities. From immunity to electricity to Hulk-like strength, these tremendous talents may soon be as normal as eating and breathing.

10Unbreakable Bones


A broken bone is a fantastic way to ruin your entire day (your entire several months, really). Despite being the hardest substance in the human body, bone is definitely not invulnerable. Unless you find yourself with an extremely rare mutation of the LRP5 gene, that is.

LRP5 is responsible for the density of your bones. Researchers have known for a while that mutations in this gene can lead to lower bone density, or osteoporosis. However, it has recently been found that they can lead to the opposite effect as well. One Connecticut family has been discovered to have LRP5 mutations that give their bones such incredible density that they are nearly unbreakable. Not one of them has ever suffered a broken bone. Focused on the spine, skull, and pelvis, this increased strength gives members of the family the strongest known skeletons on Earth.

Researchers believe this mutation causes too many “bone-growth signals” to be sent, leading to beefier bones and a potential superhero. It is hoped that one day, a controlled form of the mutant gene could be used to end bone disease.

9Super Speed


We all have the natural ability to run, if not always the will. Yet some people seem naturally better at this incredibly basic skill. Sure, it could be down to training or steroids, but geneticists believe the answer is nowhere near that.

It turns out naturally gifted runners may be more fit for the X-Men than the Olympics. The gene ACTN3 is present within every human body, but a small percentage of them mutate to help us produce a very special substance. This protein, alpha-actinin-3, is responsible for controlling the fast-twitch muscle fibers that allow us to run. Increased amounts lead to more explosive bursts of muscle power, which translate into better performance in all kinds of sports, especially sprinting.

Interestingly, there are two versions of this mutant gene, and athletes with both have been found to perform consistently better than their conventionally chromosomed counterparts. We may be on the brink of a new age of performance enhancement.

8Poison Immunity


Photo credit: Wikimedia

When it comes to poison, the human body gets very fragile very quickly; a single drop of something like cyanide or ricin, and it’s all over. Whether accidentally ingested or snuck into our food, these sinister substances are hard to defend against.

But for millennia, the villagers of San Antonio de los Cobres in Argentina have been sipping mountain water laced with 80 times the safe level of arsenic. And, surprisingly, there are still villagers in San Antonio de los Cobres. Despite extreme daily exposure to the deadly metal, residents carry on completely unaffected. This is all down to a mutant gene that has been honed by thousands of years of natural selection.

AS3MT is the name of this South American savior. It allows the body to process arsenic rather than let it build to dangerous levels, so owners of these microscopic mutants can chow down on as much of the stuff as they want. It is estimated that a total of 6,000 people now possess this gene.



The life of a superhero is not an easy one. Working your mundane cover job during the day and prowling the rooftops by night doesn’t leave a lot of time for sleep. But if you’re lucky, your host of mutant abilities includes short-sleeping.

The genes involved in the process of sleep are many and incredibly complex. One, however, stands out to researchers. DEC2 is responsible for regulating the amount of sleep we need each night to properly function. For most of us it demands a full eight hours or more, but about 5 percent of the population enjoy a slightly different mutant version.

Tests on a mother-daughter pair with the mutation have revealed an ability to sleep just 4–6 hours each night. Mere mortals would begin to experience negative effects after just a few days of this, but these mutants function completely normally. Researchers are hopefully working to replicate this mutation to allow crime fighters and the exceptionally busy to waste less time unconscious.

6Shock-Proof Skin


Photo credit: odditycentral.com

Electricity is one of the most dangerous things we encounter each day. We tend not to think much about it because we’re so used to it, but we are almost always surrounded by more than enough power to kill us in an instant. That’s never bothered Serbian man Slavisa Pajkic, though, whose unique genetic makeup makes him largely immune to electricity.

The typical human is covered with millions of sweat glands, which normally give electric shocks a nice wet path directly into our skin. Pajkic, on the other hand, has no sweat or salivary glands due to a rare genetic condition. This means electricity has no way of penetrating his body, so it skims harmlessly over his skin into whatever he happens to be holding.

This unique talent has earned Pajkic the title of “Battery Man.” Able to cook food, boil water, and even set things on fire by passing electricity over his body, he has set a handful of records and appeared on several TV shows. He also uses his gift to treat (or at least claim to treat them) various ailments like migraines and back pain in his native Serbia.

5Super Partying


Photo credit: Wikimedia

The lifestyle of rich and famous musicians is notorious for being pretty hard on the body. Countless lives have been snuffed out prematurely due to the stresses of constant drug and alcohol use. But bizarrely, one of the men associated most strongly with this life of dangerous excess has been going strong for decades.

Rocker Ozzy Osbourne’s ironically long life may be due to more than simple luck. Researchers analyzing the legendary musician’s genetic code have recently discovered a staggering number of mutant genes. Most of them have to do with the way the body breaks down alcohol and various other chemicals. For instance, a mutation of the ADH4 gene gives him increased amounts of proteins that remove alcohol from the body. Genetic variations like this help explain Osbourne’s continued existence despite the “swimming pools of booze . . . cocaine, morphine, sleeping pills, cough syrup, LSD, Rohypnol” he has admitted to indulging in over the years.

4Metal Munching


Photo via modernnotion.com

There comes a moment in every superhero’s career when defeat looks certain. The villain’s doomsday device is ticking away, and all hope seems lost. But luckily, the hero still has a genetic variation or two up his sleeve. He grabs it, adds a dash of salt, and crams it down his mighty throat. The day is saved.

But only if his name is Michel Lotito. This phenomenal French showman spent his life chowing down on absolutely everything as the amazing Monsieur Mangetout — Mr. Eats-All. Televisions, shopping carts, beds, and even an entire airplane made their way through his super-powered stomach. Swallowing shards of glass and twisted scraps of metal would of course kill most people, but Lotito survived his deadly eating habits for decades.

It is believed that Lotito’s stomach-turning talent was the result of a very specific genetic defect. Born with bizarrely thick lining in his stomach and intestines, his system was durable enough to avoid the inevitable shredding most people would experience. A few gulps of lubricating mineral oil were the only safety precaution he required.

3Super Flexibility


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Inhuman flexibility has been a comic book staple for years. This is mostly because the ability to warp the body into bizarre and amazing shapes is dramatic and visually stunning. But its pop culture popularity may lead some to think of this talent as mere fiction. It isn’t.

For those born with the genetic condition known as Marfan Syndrome, tendons and ligaments may as well be rubber bands. Mutations in the gene responsible for producing the protein fibrillin-1 cause the body to create connective tissues with superhuman flexibility. Selectively dislocating joints to twist the body into shapes worthy of Mr. Fantastic is nothing for the typical Marfan sufferer.

Of course, this gift comes with a price. Sufferers may develop unnaturally long limbs and facial disfigurements. Problems with the skeleton, nervous system, and even the heart can also arise from the genetic defect, some of which can be fatal.

2Super Strength


Super strength is the quintessential super power; it has been the go-to ability for comic book writers since Superman first flew onto the scene. The raw power it represents is fascinating, leaving many yearning for rippling muscles and brute strength with absolutely no effort. Well good news: It’s possible. Bad news: You have to be born with it.

For a lucky few born with mutations of the gene responsible for producing the protein myostatin, the dream of effortless abs is a reality. Myostatin tells the body to stop producing muscle when enough has been created, but defective genes keep it from being made. This means muscles automatically grow to twice the average size, while fat deposits are halved.

A handful of people around the world have this condition, and scientists are trying to harness its power. It is believed that by studying these mutant genes, we may one day be able to cure muscle conditions like muscular dystrophy.

1Immunity To Pain


Pain. Whether by banging your toe on the corner of your bed, cutting yourself shaving, or walking into a door, we all experience this annoying sensation almost daily. Pharmaceutical companies make billions offering us ways to avoid it, but the secret to true painlessness may be hidden in the garbled genes of a very rare few.

The SCN11A gene determines the amount of sodium in the body’s cells. This might not sound terribly impressive, until you realize that nerve cells use sodium to decide when to send a pain signal. With the mutant gene lowering sodium levels, nerve cells never have enough to send those signals, rendering the body completely immune to pain.

Bizarrely, however, people with this seemingly enviable condition are prone to broken bones and accidental self-mutilation. Without pain to tell them not to do something, they have a tendency to injure themselves, especially as infants. Still, their mutant genes are incredibly rare and valuable, as they may be the key to revolutionary new pain medications.

10 Facts About Female Genital Mutilation That Will Horrify You

10 Facts About Female Genital Mutilation That Will Horrify You

Female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision, is a barbaric practice commonly found in Africa, Asia, and several countries in the Middle East. It is the cutting of the clitoris, removal of some or all of the labia minora, or stitching shut of the labia majora. This is conducted to control the woman, to keep her from being sexually promiscuous, to prepare her for marriage, and for religious purposes.

Many who preform and even receive these acts see nothing wrong with the practice. However, this procedure is extremely invasive, controlling, and often deadly, as well as a massive violation of human rights.

10The Health Risks Are Severe And Often Deadly


Photo credit: libertygb.org.uk

There are zero health benefits from female genital mutilation, only health risks that are often deadly. Some of the immediate results of female genital mutilation are severe pain, excessive bleeding, the swelling of the genital tissue, fever, infections, tearing of the genital area, problems with urination, inability for the tissue to properly heal, injury to the surrounding genital tissue, and in severe cases shock and death.

There are also long-term consequences of this act, if the woman is able to make it through the immediate complications, such as urinary problems (including urinary tract infections and painful urination), vaginal problems (including discharge, itching, and bacterial vaginosis), scar tissue problems, extreme pain and even tearing during intercourse, difficulty with intercourse, tearing during childbirth, the need to resuscitate the child after birth, and infant death. Furthermore, there are psychological problems that may follow female genital mutilation such as depression, low self-worth, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, sexual dysfunctions, difficulty becoming aroused, sexual dysfunction due to trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, other stress disorders, and many other complications.

9Newborns To Young Adults Are Most Affected


Photo credit: AFP

The most common age of a young woman undergoing female genital mutilation is 7–10 years old, but it occurs to children of a much younger age in several countries. Many women who have been put through the process have it done to their children due to social pressure and the inability to recognize the negative impact of the practice. It is stated that it’s done at such a young age to “reduce the trauma to the children.”

Many girls 14 or older who have not undergone female genital mutilation may still be at risk. Women who have daughters will often find themselves conforming to the social pressures to have their daughters cut to find a husband, even if the mother is against the practice and has not had the procedure herself. Many young adults may also find themselves undergoing the procedure in their late teens to be able to find a husband, as many husbands in these countries are more attracted to those who do have this done.

8There Are Four Types


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Type 1 is clitoridectomy. This consists of the removal of the clitoral hood and the partial or full removal of the clitoris.

Type 2 is an excision. This is where the clitoris and labia minora are partially or even fully removed. This may or may not come with the excision of the labia majora.

Type 3 is the most severe. This is referred to as infibulation or pharaonic type. This consists of narrowing the vaginal orifice by creating a seal to cover the vaginal opening by cutting and arranging the labia minora and/or the labia majoria. This may or may not include the removal of the clitoris. The process of repositioning consists of stitching the cut areas together for a set amount of time, usually done by binding the girl’s legs together to allow scar tissue to build up and close the wound, creating a seal. This is only opened due to penetrative sexual intercourse, through surgery, or through tearing during childbirth following intercourse.

Type 4 is a general classification for all other types of female genital mutilation for non-medical purposes. This may include pricking, piercing, incisions, scraping, and cauterization. There are also a variety of less widely practiced form of female genital mutilation, including those done to aboriginal women in Australia by use of a certain kind of string, mentioned later in the list.

7There Are Cases In The United States


Photo credit: New York Times

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study in response to the advocacy of Equality Now and Same Hands for Girls in January 2016. This study found that an estimated 513,000 girls and women had undergone or been at risk of being subjected to female genital mutilation.

In addition, a study by the Population Reference Bureau conducted in February 2015 estimated that 507,000 girls and women living in the US are at risk of or have been subjected to female genital mutilation. This just proves that we need more information about the prevalence of female genital mutilation in the United States.

Although female genital mutilation has been a federal crime since 1996, there are no specific laws against them in the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.

6Countries Are Trying To Get FGM Medicalized


Photo credit: UNDP

In many countries where female genital mutilation is commonly practiced, a growing number of health care providers perform FGM, as well as supporting the medicalization of it. This would mean that it would become even more common and would be acknowledged as a beneficial medical practice. However, we know that it offers no benefits to the woman.

Many countries practice this through their religion. This is seen often in Muslim counties, where it is claimed that the Quran explicitly refers to female genital mutilation. However, Cairo’s Al-Azhar University condemned this, stating that it was a form of deceit to misguide people who hear this was a practice of the Islamic state.

5A Variety Of Tools Are Used


Photo credit: James Akena/Reuters

The tools used in the procedures of female genital mutilation are not always clean, and usually, the doctors conducting the procedure are not well trained. Dirty scalpels, pieces of glass, razors, small knives, and even sharpened sticks are used in these processes.

Often, opossum string is used, made of opossum hair strands. We see this in cases of FGM in the Pitta-Patta tribe in Australian aboriginals. When a girl reaches puberty, the entire tribe gathers, and an elderly man conducts the procedure. He first enlarges the vaginal orifice by tearing downward with his fingers bound in opossum string. Often following is the compulsory intercourse with several men.

4There Are Severe Sexual Consequences


Photo credit: Wikimedia

Women who have undergone female genital mutilation often have a harder time having an orgasm, they have a less active sex drive, and often feel that they are not able to sexually please their partners. It is also more difficult for their vagina to self-lubricate during sex, which often leads to tearing and painful intercourse. Not only that — childbirth can cause the closed opening to tear, causing hemorrhaging, tearing even of the surrounding area, and even death to the child.

3There Are Also Severe Psychological Consequences


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There are a multitude of psychological health consequences for a woman who undergoes female genital mutilation. She may develop post-traumatic stress disorder, other related stress disorders, depression, personality disorders, and a low sense of self-worth.

Data from a study conducted in 2010, of women in Northern Iraq who underwent female genital mutilation, demonstrates this. 45.6 percent or the women experienced some form of an anxiety disorder, and 13.9 percent were shown to be suffering from some type of personality disorder.

2Female Genital Mutilation Is A Massive Violation Of Human Rights


Photo credit: UNICEF

This seems like a fairly obvious statement, but many people in the countries that practice female genital mutilation feel otherwise. Meanwhile, the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and the Human Rights Committee have all been actively working to fight against it, condemning the practice altogether.

The practice has been identified as torture and cruel and inhumane treatment of women and girls, and violating the covenant on civil and political rights as well as covenant on economic, cultural, and social rights of women. It also violates a convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), a convention on the rights of the child, and a convention relating to the status of refugees and its protocol relating to the status of refugees.

In regard to children undergoing female genital mutilation, it is a permanent and potentially life-changing operation that cannot be called informed or free of coercion. Because of the vulnerability of the child and their need for care and support, human rights laws grant them special protections through The Convention on the Rights of the Child.

1Numerous Human Rights Campaigns Fight To End Female Genital Mutilation


Photo credit: Reuters

There are difficulties when it comes to stopping female genital mutilation. However, numerous human rights campaigns work to educate people about the negative effects of female genital mutilation, to create an understanding of the impact it is having. Some of these sites include End FGM European Network, Equality Now, Network Against Female Genital Mutilation, and The Orchid Project to name a few.

With knowledge comes power. If we educate ourselves on the issues that negativity impact these women and spread the message, we can help to free these women and put a stop to the practice altogether.

Eli is passionate about discussing controversial issues and starting a dialogue till every person in the debate has their opinion heard. His life-long goal is to become a well-established author and make a difference in the world, as cheesy as it may sound.