Human biology is a fascinating trove of grossness, but it’s grossness most of us don’t encounter.
For the majority of us, our in-depth exploration of biology stops once we’re out of school. We live the rest of our lives focused on our own biology, maybe that of close family members or partners and that’s about it.
But medical professionals spend their days surrounded by human weirdness and they want you to know that yes, humans are gross.
It’s perfectly natural.
Reddit user “Bitictac” asked:
“Doctors of reddit, what’s the weirdest/grossest fact about the human body that no one seems to know?”
If you’re squeamish, we’re going to suggest you go ahead and back out of this article now. We will be getting very up close and way too personal as we talk about all sorts of bodily fluids and functions.
Proceed with caution.
Cartman Was Right?!
“Not a doctor. Nurse here. If you have a bad gastro-intestinal obstruction you can vomit feces.”
“This happened to me once after I accidentally ingested some poisonous mushroom. Yes it was as awful as it sounds.”
“Had a guy when I was out doing wilderness med that ate too many MREs (which essentially operate as the exact opposite of a laxative) and his breath smelled awful and he had severe abdominal pain.”
“We realized he had a GI block from the MRE food turning into a brick in his intestines and his breath was because his sh*t was flowing back into his stomach since it couldn’t leave his body.”
“Old ladies often have prolapse of their pelvic organs.”
“This means their vaginal walls got so weak that it can no longer support their bladder or uterus. A grade 4 prolapse is when it’s really sticking the heck out of their vagina like an alien head. -Nurse practitioner”
“Happened to me after having 4 kids in 4 years. Had a hysterectomy at 29.”
“Before modern surgery to help relieve that, you’d get a wooden mushroom looking thing to insert to push and hold things back up there.”
“In poor areas, root vegetables could be used.”
“Not everyone gets surgery now, so there are still silicone versions of it in use to this day.”
“When a patient gets a kidney transplant, they usually leave the old 2 behind unless there’s a significant problem with them.”
“The extra kidney is just tucked in the peritoneum leaving the patient with 3 kidneys.”
“The kidney comes with the renal artery, vein, and the ureter still attached, so all they have to do is hook it up to the iliac vein/artery and the bladder. Like they really just plug that bad boy in and then let it be.”
“I watched a video of a transplant and it was way easier than I ever would have imagined it would be.”
“Honestly I’d be annoyed about the kidney thing. I don’t want extra organs in my body.”
Black Hairy Tongue
“Dental student here. Black hairy tongue is a common condition and it’s exactly what it sounds like.”
“It’s just caused by buildup of dead skin that becomes hair like because of tobacco use or antibiotic use. Usually combined with lack of frictional forces from brushing/scraping the tongue.”
“My very first patient at the hospital had black hairy tongue & I was just shocked.”
“Lips are made of a membrane called mucosa.”
“The anal sphincter, the nostrils, the glans of the penis, urethras, and the vagina are also made out of mucosal membrane. Pretty much any of your super delicate skin that is often wet is mucosa.”
“It’s often used in areas where a little protection could be used, since the cells in mucosal membranes are really densely packed. They also often secrete some form of mucous (lubrication, boogers, saliva, etc).”
“It’s all the same tissue. It all feels pretty much the same. Do with that what you will.”
“So if they ask me to kiss their a**, I can just kiss them in the lips?”
“I think you’ve just ruined kissing for everyone forever.”
“… Speak for yourself.”
A Leaky Nose & A Blood Plug
“You can leak brain fluid (csf) out your nose because there’s a bone with a bunch of holes for your olfactory (smell) nerves called the cribiform plate.”
“I remember a one-off character in Grey’s Anatomy that was leaking csf from his nose! Thank you for explaining it.”
“Leaking brain fluid… that made me want to disintegrate…”
“To help you not have nightmares, it’s pretty rare and you’d probably know – the photophobia and headache that go along with it are pretty bad.”
“That doesn’t stop people from thinking they have it when in fact they have allergic rhinitis, or they’ve not realized that the sinuses can fill up with fluid, and when they dump that fluid they can dump quite a lot.”
“There’s two angles your sinuses are most likely to leak from too for most people – eyes straight down, and looking straight up. Tilt your head about about 10 degrees.”
“In the unlikely event that you are actually leaking brain fluid, it’s actually surprisingly simple to fix for most people.”
“Usually it just takes a little bit of your own blood. It’s squirted into the spinal fluid and the blood clot it forms seals the hole up.”
“You become your own tire plug.”
“Holy sh*t I may have had this done when I had meningitis!”
“They shot my own blood into my face and I was too out of it to know what was happening other than being confused why they took my blood only to put it back in me.”
We’re Basically Cuttlefish
“Every single melanocyte on your skin (you know, the ones that give your hairs color, and your skin its skin color) is connected to your sympathetic nervous system via modified synapses.”
“No-one knows why they’re connected that way – but we do know that under stress, those nerves nuke the pool of stem cells that create hair pigment, which is why it makes your hair go grey.”
“A few mutations and you could, theoretically, be able to control them and change color like a chameleon.”
“So in many ways, we’re basically walking cuttlefish.”
The Most Doctor Answer
“The thing with this question is, I don’t know what people consider gross or weird.”
“Lots of questions about pooping, but that’s neither gross nor weird to me; its a bodily function.”
“I have stories about gross stuff that made me gag, but I wouldn’t consider any normal bodily function gross.”
“This is the most doctor answer ever. I’m sure most doctors are so desensitized that they don’t know what normal people even consider gross.”
“One that a lot of men don’t tend to know: the vaginas discharge can bleach underwear, even black underwear.”
“It’s perfectly natural and normal.”
If you’re a medical professional with an interesting or gross human body fact to share, let’s meet in the comments!