Updated 22 November 2013

The body is weird and wonderful

We share a few medical facts about things we don’t really talk about – navels, farts, nipples and erections!

An “innie” or an “outie”
Most people’s bellybuttons are flat, form a small hollow and have a neat little crescent of skin above it. The middle of the navel is usually connected on the inside to the outer stomach muscles.

If there’s scarring between the navel and the muscle layer, the scar tissue and the small amount of fatty tissue under the skin push the bellybutton outwards. If the navel protrudes a lot, it might be because of an umbilical hernia, something that needs to be fixed – otherwise the small intestine might get caught in the gap in the stomach muscles.

The navel is what is eventually left behind after a baby’s umbilical cord is cut just after birth.

Stink bombs
Your body produces, on average, about 1 litre of gas each day. It’s produced in about 14 small pockets and the precise composition depends on the food you eat, how much air you swallowed that day, the types of bacteria in your intestines and how long you try to hold back the gas. The pressure behind each pocket of gas in your colon is almost double the pressure in your car tyres.

The smell is caused by small amounts of sulphur and nitrogen compounds created by partially digested food as well as the bacteria in the colon. The sulphur compounds are mainly hydrogen sulphide (the gas that smells like rotten eggs) and mercaptan. The nitrogen-rich compounds are mainly skatole and indole.

Sulphur-rich foods such as cabbage, eggs and meat cause smellier gases. Beans produce a lot of gas but the smell isn't as bad.

Some people have more than two nipples
Did you know that 2% of women and 1% of men have a third nipple or even more? One woman had 10, all attached to full breasts.

The extra nipples are situated along the “milk lines”, which run along both sides of the chest from the armpits through the normal nipple area down to the groin. It might look like a mole or like a recognisable nipple and in rare cases could develop into a breast.

Celebs with extra nipples include actor Mark Wahlberg and singer Lily Allen.
If you have an extra nipple and it bothers you, ask your doctor to remove it.

A strange way to die
Ever heard of “angel lust”? This is a post-mortem erection that occurs when a man dies vertically or face down.

Here’s how it works: when the man is still alive, his heart pumps blood evenly around the body. When he dies, this mechanism stops and the blood acts by the force of gravity. As with any mass, the blood will settle at the lowest point of the body and cause swelling.

If he dies vertically, the blood will settle in the legs and collect at the feet. The pressure will cause the blood vessels and tissues in the feet to swell up to accommodate as much blood as possible. As blood collects, it will fill up the torso and the blood will attempt to move to a lower position due to gravity, which is the penis (the legs are full by now).

The blood causes the penis, consisting of erectile tissue, to fill with blood and expand.

(Health24, October 2013)


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