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This Woman’s Powerful Message About Crying in the Shower Is Going Viral

Ever find yourself having a good cry in the shower—partly because it’s the only place you feel free enough to let go your feelings? Brittany Latham knows what that’s like.

This 30-year-old photographer from Mobile, Alabama, decided to share an image of a woman crying in the shower on Instagram, captioning it with inspiring words that has hit such a chord, it’s already racked up hundreds of thousands of views.

RELATED: 5 Shower Habits That Can Wreck Your Skin

“For the woman whose husband makes an ‘extra stop’ after work every evening,” she started the post. “For the woman who is mourning the loss of a pregnancy that nobody else knew about.”

Latham continued calling out other cry-worthy scenarios, like losing a job after staying home with a sick child, breaking up with a partner, or enduring unsuccessful IVF treatments. She made it clear that she understands the stress and heartache of these and similar situations.

“For the woman that lives with quiet anxiety because nobody understands what you could possibly be stressed out about,” she wrote. “For the woman that gives to her family all day everyday and just needs a break.”

RELATED: 5 Tips That’ll Make the Shower Your New Favorite Place to Have Sex

Latham ended her post with a message directly related to the photo. “For every single woman that cries in the shower so that nobody else can see. Because if you aren’t strong, nobody is. Just because the water washes your tears doesn’t mean that you don’t cry. I am you. I see you. I am with you, I cry with you.”

Her emotional post struck a nerve. Within days, it went viral on Facebook and has garnered nearly 400,000 reactions and more than 400,000 shares.

Latham tells Health that she was motivated by her own life and other women’s experiences. “The inspiration behind [this] was a collection of various things that I have experienced as a single mom, married mom, and mom of two babies lost to miscarriage,” she says. “I spend a lot of time with my friends and hear their struggles and I thought how resilient women must be sometimes. A lot of times we are the only backbone.”

RELATED: This Explains Why You Might Cry After Sex

In more than 60,000 comments, people celebrated the beauty and power of her words and image. “Wow…I saw myself in many of these words and yes the sun did shine again on me,” one respondent wrote. “This is truth,” said another.

Latham told us that she was shocked her post connecting with so many strangers. “I write a lot of pieces and very few make it out of my journal, so I was just as shocked as anyone when this thing went viral,” she says.

This Body-Positive Instagrammer Recreated Kim Kardashian’s Nude Perfume Bottle Pic, and It’s Gorgeous

On April 24th, Kim Kardashian broke the internet when she gave her fans a preview of the ads for her new KKW Body perfume, revealing that her own, naked body was the inspiration for the fragrance’s bottle. The eye-catching ad prompted some of Kardashian’s friends to joke about creating perfume bottles based on their own bodies. And now, one body positive activist has done just that, making her own version of the KKW Body ad with an inspiring message.

Carmen Rene, who goes by the handle “eatthecaketoo” on social media, is a body-positive Instagrammer and vlogger. According to Cosmopolitan, she often provides her followers tips about managing the condition lymphedema, which can cause your body to swell, while also spreading a message of self-love and acceptance.

After seeing the KKW Body ad, Carmen decided to expand the conversation surrounding the perfume bottle. She took pictures of herself posed nude to mimic the photos of Kardashian’s body and posted a side-by-side with the original to Instagram on April 30th. In a powerful caption, she wrote that even though Kardashian’s body is traditionally viewed by society as “perfect,” all bodies should be considered perfect if they are “as good as they can possibly be.”

“Today, at this very moment my body is as good as it possibly can be,” Carmen wrote in the caption of her post. “I can’t change it today, and tomorrow it may be different, it will still be perfect. There is no body better than the next. There is no one body that is ‘perfect’. There is your body, unique, worthy, desirable and perfect.”

Carmen’s results are beautiful.

Carmen’s take on the KKW Body ad sends an empowering message that all bodies are worthy of being celebrated. And while Kardashian certainly has the right to flaunt her body, so do all people — even those who don’t completely fit society’s narrow definition of beauty. As Carmen wrote, everyone’s bodies are “unique, worthy, desirable, and perfect.”

These 5 Habits May Help You Live 10 Years Longer, Study Says

Making five healthy lifestyle choices could prolong your life by longer than 10 years, according to a new study.

The habits are recognizable — eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, drinking only in moderation, not smoking and maintaining a healthy body weight — but the study sought to quantify the exact extent to which they could impact a person’s health and longevity. The findings, published in the journal Circulation, suggest that adhering to these five behaviors could extend a woman’s life expectancy at age 50 by 14 years, and a man’s by 12.

The researchers analyzed data from two large studies of U.S. health professionals, using a sample of almost 79,000 women and more than 44,300 men. The people filled out detailed questionnaires about their health and lifestyle habits every two to four years, with researchers monitoring their adherence to the five behaviors highlighted by the study.

People were considered to have a healthy diet if they fell into the top 40% of the study group, based on their Healthy Eating Index score; to drink moderately if they had a drink or fewer per day for women, or two drinks a day or fewer for men; to have a healthy body weight if their body mass index fell between 18.5 and 24.9; to exercise regularly if they were active for at least 30 minutes a day; and to not smoke if they had never picked up the habit.

The researchers tracked the group for up to 34 years. During that time, more than 42,000 people died. Almost 14,000 of these deaths were due to cancer, according to the study, and almost 10,700 were due to cardiovascular disease.

Those who followed all five of the healthy habits, however, were 74% less likely to die during the follow-up period than those who followed none of them. Beyond that general risk reduction, they were 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 65% less likely to die from cancer.

Those decreases in risk correlate to more than 10 years of extra life, according to the paper — a huge leap, especially in the U.S., where life expectancy lags significantly behind that of many other wealthy nations and is even declining modestly.

The results underscore the importance of making small but impactful changes to your health and daily routines — and of following the wellness advice you’ve been hearing for years.

This TV Star’s Before-and-After Photo Shows Why She’s ‘Loving’ Her Weight Gain

See how she’s embracing her new body. 

If you watch The Real, you’ve seen Jeannie Mai get real on the small screen talking to celebrities. Now, the 39-year-old Emmy winner is getting real about something personal: her weight transformation.

While most Instagrammers celebrate losing weight, Mai wrote an inspiring message about gaining 17 pounds—and how the extra pounds have made her feel better than ever.

RELATED: This Woman Looks Like She Lost Weight, but She Actually Gained 25 Pounds—Here’s How

“On the left is the first time I tried on this dress, at a weight I’ve kept for 12 years, 103 lbs,” she captioned a before-and-after post shared on Tuesday. “Staying 103 came from my self-control to lose ‘chubby’ teenage weight and a stressful idea that my body was built to look best ‘thin.’”

Mai then addressed the “after” image in her post, explaining that her mentality about weight and her body shifted when she hit her late thirties.

“As I’m nearing my 40s, I realize that I’ve been [through] so much shit mentally and emotionally, why the hell should my body be forced to suffer (from my over controlling ways) too? So 3 months ago I started a new eating plan and training program and gained 17 lbs. I don’t have a weight goal..just a promise to be as physically [strong] as I am mentally [indestructible].”

How did Mai gain the weight? She said she’s spent the past few months eating more and “saying [yes] to carbs!!” Weight lifting also helped her bulk up, a fitness activity she calls the “best therapy ever.” 

The One Word That Keeps You From Being Truly in the Moment

Erin Falconer is the editor behind the self-improvement site Pick the Brain. In this excerpt from her book How to Get Sh*T Done ($26, amazon.com), she highlights the toxic word we all need to ban from our self-talk.

It’s time we kicked should to the curb. Should is a word that implies obligation and expectation and often comes as a box set that’s gift-wrapped in guilt and even shame. It’s also a word that implies an open-endedness and the absence of a decision. It describes possibility rather than reality. “I should go to the gym” is not the same as “I’m going to the gym.” “I’m going to the gym” is definitive. You’ve got a plan and you’re executing that plan. There’s no feeling involved, it’s simply a commitment. The person saying “I should go to the gym” might end up by lacing up her runners, or she might spend another hour on the couch. Not only does should suggest things are still up in the air, it’s almost always a negative.

We rarely use should when talking about something we’re looking forward to. If you wanted to describe something you hoped for but weren’t sure would come through, you’d say, “I hope I can make it to that conference next month” or “I want to leave the office in time to join friends for dinner.” You don’t have a set-in-stone plan yet in these scenarios, but your desires are clear. When you find yourself saying should, you’re not anticipating something great, but rather are reminding yourself of that never-ending to-do list you should (there it is again!) be chipping away at.

Shoulding ourselves is a major energy drain, as it compels us to split focus. We’re forcing our minds to be in two places at once. If I’m exhausted after a marathon week and am urgently in need of a day involving my bed and a book, but I’m taunted by the feeling that I should be helping my parents clean out their garage, I’m now in two places. I’m also in neither place, really. I’m not enjoying some well earned self-care, because I’m distracted by my guilt, and I’m not helping my parents, because I couldn’t make a decision to do so. I’ve robbed myself of the satisfaction that either of these choices could have brought me. We’re never truly in the moment if we allow thoughts of should to be telling us a story of another choice that might have been made.

RELATED: 9 Easy Ways to Practice Self-Care This Week

Which brings us to should ’s true toxic nature. We don’t actually say should that often, not out loud, anyway. No, should is the word we say to ourselves, all day long. Inner dialogue is something all humans have. If left unchecked and untrained, the brain can be noisy with negative commentary. Imagine a sportscaster (except it’s you!) describing your day. “Really? Can you not see the muffin top those jeans are creating? You should lose five pounds before wearing those.” Should plays a key role in the lion’s share of this trash talk.

Your alarm goes off and you think, I should go for a run . . . but I really want to sleep for fifteen more minutes. At lunch you tell yourself, I should order the salad . . . but I’m craving a burger. After a phone call with you mother, you think, I really should get out to my parents’ place more often. I should go this weekend. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to exercise, eat healthy, and stay connected with our families. But the very fact of a should in a sentence is a red flag that you either don’t want to do that thing, or don’t really intend to do it. Either way, you’ve created a divide between what you’re expected to do and what you want to do. If you are saying the word should, but really mean something different, you are penalizing yourself—which over time will deplete you.

RELATED: 9 Ways to Silence Your Inner Critic

And whose expectations are we meeting—or worse, failing—when we badger ourselves with should? This can be a tricky tangle to unpick. But it’s worth slowing down and examining if you’re being pulled toward doing something because you believe it’s the right thing to do or because you’re conforming to a societal expectation that doesn’t serve you.

Here are a few times you shouldn’t should:

I should go to Jenny’s baby shower because she went to mine. Wrong.

I should do more work on this paper because I have an extra couple of hours. Wrong.

I should go pick up the kids because my husband has had a really tough week. Wrong.

If you are saying the word should in a sentence there is a 99 percent chance you are wrong.

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The only time should should be used is in choosing a priority or order to something that has a quantifiable outcome, e.g., “I should go to the bank before the meeting because traffic is lighter and I will waste less time.”

Making changes in how we speak, and therefore in how we think, is significant. If you’ve been doing anything one way for years, switching gears will feel uncomfortable. And it’s that discomfort that can set off alarm bells for many women. Making other people uncomfortable? Making myself uncomfortable? It’s like sirens going off in your brain!

But with repetition, saying what you mean (rather than what is expected of you) can become as comfortable as your old habits were.

Excerpted from HOW TO GET SH*T DONE: Why Women Need to Stop Doing Everything So They Can Achieve Something by Erin Falconer. Copyright c 2018 by Erin Falconer. Reprinted by permission of Gallery Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

This Instagram Artist’s Illustrations About Life and Mental Health Will Help You Feel ‘Normal’

This story is part of Health’s #RealLifeStrong series, where we are celebrating women who represent strength, resilience, and grace.

Illustrator Mari Andrew pulls from her own emotions and experiences to depict the complexities of life that touch us all—from grief and loneliness to healing and new love. In the space of three years, her candid drawings have attracted nearly 800,000 followers on Instagram. Here, the 31-year-old talks about discovering watercolors (at 28), her recovery from a terrifying autoimmune disorder, and what she hopes to convey through her work.

What inspired you to start drawing back in 2015?

I was experiencing a very rough breakup, my father’s death, and some health issues, but what I was really going through was isolation and dissatisfaction. When you’re at rock bottom, you see your life very clearly. I truly realized that I was not immortal, and that there was so much I wanted to do—including write a book! I made a long list of things I wanted to do (my own little happiness project), and one of those many things was more painting with watercolors. I always found it so soothing. So I bought some $3 watercolors and a table, and decided to make it a daily practice. It was a difficult period of my life, but also so ablaze with possibility and wonder and fresh energy.

As you were finding your way forward, how did you stay motivated?

I was so desperate to create happiness that I didn’t really need any extra motivation! I think that’s the beauty of being in a dark place; you are constantly grasping at stars. Now that I’m in a pretty good place in life, I’m not so desperate to carve out joy, so I’m slightly less motivated to seek it out. I actually put reminders on my calendar, like “Go to a new museum this week,” or, “Look into Portuguese lessons.” If I don’t write it down, it can be easy to just let life happen and not be so self-initiating.

mari-andrew-illustrator-real-life-strong-one

Many of your drawings focus on healing and recovery—how long have you’ve been dealing with your health crisis?

While I was in Spain finishing my book, I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, an extremely rare and aggressive autoimmune disease that can paralyze your entire body. It was completely random and really came out of nowhere. Needless to say, it was terrifying to lose mobility in my legs and arms within two days. It was a horrific time of life, one in which I became intimate with the suffering that so many people live with permanently. The world is just not built for people with disabilities, and the lack of accessibility made me feel even more isolated and heartbroken during recovery.

Did drawing help you cope?

I don’t know that art really helped me cope (dancing was a better healer!), but in all candor, I feel blessed that I have more experiences to express now. Before I got sick, I think I knew a lot about the human experience and some universal experiences, but health issues certainly brought up many new feelings for me. I would never wish to go through what I went through, but I do think that it gave me a new tool to relate to people, and a new power to heal people.

How are you doing now?

It’s traumatic. I read that the definition of trauma is anything happening to you without your consent. I feel that. I’m deeply wounded by it. I think I’ll need a lifetime of therapy to fully process it. Like any trauma, I think about it constantly. I talk about it a lot with my mom—who came to the hospital to be with me—and replay a lot of those horrible moments. It’s so hard to explain to anyone else; I’m thankful my mom was there to share a bit of it with me, because otherwise I think it would be overwhelmingly isolating. I am in therapy and will continue to go as a means of healing!

What’s your creative process like these days?

Drawing every single day has really strengthened my creative muscle, so now the ideas just pop into my head during conversations, walks, or sleep! I know it sounds hokey, but I believe that ideas are swirling around in the ethers and they will “visit” the artists and creators they know are the most reliable to carry them out. Because I draw and write daily, I think ideas know to tap me on the shoulder often because they know I’ll put them on paper. I’m a faithful friend to ideas.

How do you feel about sharing yourself and your art on Instagram?

I know the difference between art to share, and art to keep private. I don’t make art about anything that I haven’t processed first; that’s what my journal is for. So, by the time I’ve processed it, I feel relatively detached. I don’t put work in public to get advice or to heal; I put it out there to create space for people who might feel alone in their own experiences to know that they are “normal” and not alone.

Autobiography

A post shared by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on May 4, 2017 at 3:49am PDT

You didn’t discover drawing until your late 20s. What would you tell others who are still trying to find their “‘thing”?

Drawing is one activity that I enjoy doing every day, along with many other activities I enjoy doing every day. I encourage anybody to do anything that brings their days a little more sunshine and happiness. Life is about exploring and experimenting and seeking joy, and that’s how drawing came into my life. I hope to find many more things throughout life that bring me joy! I’m still not sure exactly what my career will be, and I’m so excited to keep finding out.

Mari Andrew’s book, Am I There Yet?: The Loop-de-loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood ($20, amazon.com), is out now.

We want to hear about more #RealLifeStrong women. Nominate yourself—or a friend or family member—here. We’ll be sharing the most inspiring stories we receive in the months ahead.

Why It’s Not Okay to Call Kanye West ‘Crazy’ or Question His Mental Health

So Kanye West tweeted this week—a lot. On Wednesday, the rapper talked about his home, emoji preferences, and why President Donald Trump is his “brother.”

RELATED: Why It’s Time to Stop Casually Calling People ‘Schizophrenic’ or ‘Bipolar’

In response, people from all over the world (including his pal John Legend) expressed that they found his statements and pictures of his “Make America Great Again” hat offensive. And while Legend and many others were well intentioned and respectful, some commenters were quick to call West “crazy” and mentally ill.

Kim Kardashian West defended her husband, tweeting, “Mental Health is no joke and the media needs to stop spitting that out so casually. Bottom line.”

Kardashian West has it right. Whether you agree or disagree with West’s posts, accusing him of having a psychological disorder insults those who actual do have one, and it spreads misinformation about what it means to live with depression, bipolar disorder, or a similar condition. 

Stephen Hinshaw, PhD, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley and author of Another Kind of Madness: A Journey Through the Stigma and Hope of Mental Illness, tells Health how calling someone crazy stigmatizes those with actual mental disorders.

RELATED: This Is the One Skincare Product Kim Kardashian Uses Every Day

“Though it might be tempting to ‘diagnose’ or brand someone with views that you find abhorrent as ‘crazy’ or ‘psycho,’ doing so ignores the fact that mental disorders actually do exist and cause real pain and impairment—but require considerable time and effort on the part of the clinician to make an accurate diagnosis,” Hinshaw says. “No one can do this by reading someone’s political views.”

That applies to doctors and other professionals who are trained to diagnose mental disorders as well. It’s unethical, Hinshaw says, and runs afoul of a guideline instituted in the 1960s called the Goldwater Rule, after psychiatrists labeled 1964 presidential candidate Barry Goldwater crazy because of his political views. A professional can only make a mental health disorder diagnosis after an exam.

Kanye is a celebrity example of why it’s wrong to call someone you disagree with nuts, bonkers, or psycho. But many of us have done it when we disagree with something a friend or coworkers says or posts. Next time you want to tell your sister or BFF that she’s insane because of an opinion she has, stop yourself and remember that mental disorders are legitimate illnesses, not insults.

To get our best wellness tips delivered to you inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

“Given the rampant stigma that still exists regarding mental illness, even in 2018, such unjust accusations are likely to be damaging,” Hinshaw says. “These are slurs against unpopular views, not accurate diagnoses of conditions like PTSD, bipolar disorder or ADHD.”

See How This Fitness Influencer Hid Her Bloat to Make It Look Like She Had a ‘Flatter Tummy’

So, I have a secret ……… did you know that if you hike your waistband up, you can create the illusion of a flatter tummy? 🤰🏼😂 (but in all seriousness, high waisted pants really do work miracles.) . . Everyone’s body is different and everyone stores fat differently. Like a lot of women, I tend to store extra fat in my belly. Just like anyone else, I also bloat. A lot. One mini club sub Mike’s Way on a wheat roll and BAM lookin 5 months pregnant 🤰🏼 and, just like anyone, I get really self-conscious about my excess belly fat 🙈 But I’ve learned 3 really important things about my tummy throughout my fitness journey: . 1. You can’t spot reduce fat. I used to do endless crunches and eat terribly and expect to wake up with a six pack. I wish it worked like that; you actually have to follow a healthy diet and burn fat through physical activity, be it cardio, HIIT, strength training, or whatever it is you like to do. . 2. you don’t NEED to have a perfectly flat, super-defined tummy to be fit or to be happy. You also don’t need to let insecurity hold you back. Lately I’ve been noticing that when I’m super bloated I feel super self-conscious and I let that ruin the productivity of my gym sessions. That’s rLY SILLY isn’t it?! 😛 . 3. The people you see on social media showing off their amazing abs bloat too. I know this seems stupidly obvious, especially with all of the posts we see on social media showing off bloated vs non-bloated stomachs, but honestly, I’m grateful that this message continues to get passed around, because when I was just starting out on my fitness journey I literally thought that if you did lots of abs exercises you would have a six-pack 24/7 😂 dont you dare compare yourself 😾 . . lighting, high-waisted leggings, the time of day, angles, genetics, body fat %, what you ate and when you ate it all affect the visibility of abs. Never ever ever confuse belly bloat for a lack of progress, and never ever ever let it hold you back! 🙅🏼‍♀️ and don’t get discouraged if you have an extremely difficult time banishing belly fat; it can be the mostttttt stubborn and, for me, it’s alwayssssss the very last thing to go whenever I’m trying to lean out

A post shared by pizza queen 🍕 (@erinbethfit) on Apr 23, 2018 at 12:56pm PDT

Woman Dumps Body Shaming Boyfriend Who Says She Has a ‘Beer Gut’

After sharing a text conversation where her boyfriend encouraged her to lose weight from her “beer gut” on Twitter, one woman gained thousands of internet friends — and decided to dump her boyfriend, losing “a hefty 180 lbs.” in the process.

Shelby Johnson, 23, shared their text exchange after her boyfriend said that she didn’t look like she did when they first met.

“It’s not like I haven’t told you you’ve been gaining and needed to lose anyway,” he wrote. “You’re definitely getting a beer gut babe.”

His comments were tough for Johnson to hear, because she went through years of body frustrations. As a high schooler, she had to be hospitalized because her body wouldn’t gain weight and got down to 80 lbs., to the confusion of doctors. By age 20, Johnson was finally able to add pounds and her body image soared.

Shelby Johnson

“I haven’t been self conscious in years. I was when I was underweight, but when I started getting to my goal weight my entire mindset changed,” she tells PEOPLE. “I felt more confident, more whole even. I knew that I was getting where I wanted to be and strived to be. His comments did make me self-conscious. I started trying to work out 24/7. A couple friends noticed and expressed concern in my sudden desire to be ‘so fit.’ ”

Johnson, who said in her tweet that she’s only gained 5 lbs. in the five months that they’ve been dating, decided to post the exchange because she thought she might be overreacting, and wanted a second (or 39,500th) opinion.

Shelby Johnson

Shelby Johnson

“I had been struggling in our relationship for a while due to other concerns I was having about his behavior toward me,” she says. “So none of my friends or family knew what was going on. I had a few close internet friends that I thought would give me a good, genuine, non-biased reply. I had no idea it would go viral. I only had about 200 followers!”

But it definitely did go viral, with nearly 39,500 likes and over 5,700 comments from people telling Johnson to break up with him, and that she’s beautiful already.

“The reaction was and is still overwhelming,” she says. “But the people sharing their stories has been so heartwarming. Men, women, everyone has reached out and told me my story has inspired them. I couldn’t ask for a better outcome. It’s not even about me anymore, it’s about touching other people.”

Johnson decided to dump him — though she says that she had made that choice before the Twitter reaction. “The comments only made me realize I wasn’t crazy for being hurt,” she says. And she joked in another tweet that their breakup meant that she was “dropping a hefty 180 lbs.”

And she adds that the split was tough, but she wishes him the best.

“I really did love him,” Johnson says. “He is a good person deep down — he has a lot of growing to do though. Hopefully this motivates him, he said it has.”

The photographer and college student also encourages everyone to love themselves.

“Don’t let anyone tell you what’s healthy or not healthy besides your doctor, because that is how eating disorders happen,” Johnson says. “Be careful, notice red flags and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and leave something that is no longer making you feel happy.”

Doctors Performed the First Full Penis and Scrotum Transplant on an American Military Vet

Physicians at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore have performed the first total penis and scrotum transplant in the world, the hospital announced on Monday.

The surgery, which took place over 14 hours on March 26, was performed by a team of nine plastic surgeons and two urological surgeons. The penis and scrotum (without testicles) and partial abdominal wall came from a deceased donor. The recipient is a military veteran who was injured by an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Afghanistan and wishes to remain anonymous. The hospital said he has recovered from the surgery and will be discharged from the hospital this week.

“It’s a real mind-boggling injury to suffer, it is not an easy one to accept,” the transplant recipient said in a statement released by Johns Hopkins. “When I first woke up, I felt finally more normal… [with] a level of confidence as well. Confidence… like finally I’m okay now.”

The procedure is the second penis transplant to be publicly reported in the United States, but the first full transplant of this kind. In 2016, surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital performed the first penis transplant in the U.S. on a man who had his penis amputated due to penile cancer.

Read more: The New Transplant Revolution

The Johns Hopkins team has been planning for penis transplant procedures for years, with the goal of eventually helping wounded veterans. A 2016 report found that from 2001 to 2013, 1,367 men in the United States military suffered injuries to their genitals or urinary tract in Iraq or Afghanistan. The report also found that most of the injuries were caused by bomb blasts, and over a third were considered severe. Among the injured men, 94% were age 35 or younger. “Many men sustained disfiguring genital injuries during their peak years of sexual development and reproductive potential,” researchers wrote in the 2016 report.

A penis transplant is a complicated procedure that includes connecting all the arteries, veins, nerves, the skin and the urethra to the recipient. Each penis removal and injury can be different depending on which parts are removed, but surgeons hope that for at least some men, sexual function can be restored. “We are hopeful that this transplant will help restore near-normal urinary and sexual functions for this young man,” Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, professor and director of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement. Other men are now undergoing screening for the procedure, Lee said in a news conference.

The Johns Hopkins team decided not to transplant the donor’s testicles because such a transplant could allow genetic material to be passed on from the donor. The hospital said there are too many unanswered ethical questions surrounding that kind of transplant.

Penis transplants are estimated to cost $50,000 to $75,000. As of now, hospitals are largely footing the bills. Since the procedures are still considered experimental, they are not covered by insurance. Johns Hopkins covered the cost of the veteran’s transplant, and the doctors there are in the process of applying for a research grant that would offer coverage for further procedures.

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