Bodily fluids are fluids, which are generally excreted or secreted from the human body. These respective fluids would include:
Feces, while not generally classed as a body fluid, are often treated similarly to body fluids, and are sometimes fluid or semi-fluid in nature.
Internal body fluids, which are not usually leaked or excreted to the outside world, include:
Bodily fluids in religion and history
Bodily fluids are regarded with varying levels of disgust among Western cultures, as well as many Middle Eastern cultures; the perception is that bodily fluids are unclean (which is not strictly true as urine is in most cases completely sterile until it exits the body). These perceptions are due largely to the influence of Judaism and the teachings of the Old Testament or Torah, and were carried over into Christianity and Islam, who regard these same writings as sacred.
Other religions do not share such beliefs. Some sects of Hindu regularly ingest their own urine for health reasons. Hindus, Khoikhoi, and Dinkas smear themselves with dung or dung ashes to atone. Persians once atoned by drinking cow urine.
Feces and urine have been used by religions on every continent for atonement, rites of passage, and funerary rites.
Attitudes concerning bodily fluids aside, there is a long human history of their use in religion, medicine, art, sex, and folklore. Some believe that the tradition of shaking hands with the right hand stems from using the left hand to clean up after defecation, as a result, shaking hands with the left hand is considered insulting in many cultures.
Body fluids and health
Modern medical hygiene and public health practices also treat body fluids as unclean. This is because they can be vectors for infectious diseases, such as sexually transmitted diseases or blood-borne diseases.
Safer sex practices try to avoid exchanges of body fluids which may risk infection.
- Paul Spinrad. (1999) The RE/Search Guide to Bodily Fluids. Juno Books. ISBN 1890451045
- John Bourke. (1891) Scatologic Rites of All Nations. Washington, D.C.: W.H. Lowdermilk.