Botox is pretty freaky. It’s a neurotoxin produced by a bacteria that likes to hang out on the gills of shellfish, such as crabs, or inside the intestines of animals and fish (Um… yuck!). In high doses, Botox causes botulism, which can kill you. The being said: We jab it in our faces in low doses, interrupting signals from our nerves to our muscles to make our wrinkles less noticeable. It turns out, though, that this weird toxin has benefits other than freezing our faces — and they’re not what you’d expect at all.
1. Relieve chronic pain
A new study found that Botox could provide relief to people suffering from neuropathic pain — pain often caused by nerve damage brought on by everything from spinal surgery to multiple sclerosis. This discovery is important, the researchers say, because this kind of pain can be completely debilitating to people who have it, and managing neuropathic pain is a “highly unmet need.” The study found that patients who were given Botox injections during a six-month period had their pain reduced more than patients who were given a placebo injection.
2. Prevent premature ejaculation
This sounds very, very uncomfortable, but some researchers think injecting Botox into a man’s perineum (the sensitive area between their scrotum and anus) is a good idea for those struggling with premature ejaculation. There’s a big muscle in the perineum called the bulbospongiosus muscle (try saying that 10 times fast), and it controls ejaculation. Researchers — who published their study in 2014 in the International Journal of Sex Medicine — gave some poor lab rats Botox injections in this muscle, then somehow got these rats to ejaculate (that’s a job I would not want!). The rats injected with full Botox doses took 10 minutes to ejaculate while those that didn’t get the Botox lasted six and a half minutes.
3. Reduce migraine frequency
Anyone who has ever had to leave work to lie in a dark room for hours while seeing weird spots of light and experiencing excruciating pain (guilty) knows that migraines can be debilitating. And if you suffer from migraines a lot, it’s likely you’d try anything to get them to go away. In 2010, the FDA approved the use of Botox for migraines. Botox is used to treat severe migraines, which hit sufferers more than 14 days a month. Here’s how the treatment works: For 12 weeks, you get multiple injections of Botox on your head, neck and back. Botox claims that the treatments can prevent up to nine migraine days a month. That being said, the placebo used in clinical trials was pretty effective, too, preventing seven migraine days. But the side effects of Botox injections are pretty scary and include everything from the inability to form words to trouble breathing.
4. Combat armpit sweating
Sweating too much has a medical name — hyperhidrosis — and sticking Botox needles in your armpits can reportedly curb excessive sweat. Botox injections to help people who suffer from heavy sweating have been approved by the FDA since 2004, and the process works like this: The botulinum toxin prevents the chemical that activates your sweat glands from being secreted, so people who get Botox injections in their pits stop sweating in the areas where they got the injections. And according to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, this treatment helps reduce sweating by more than 80 percent.
5. Treat painful sex
Women who experience vaginismus deal with painful sex caused by the spasm of their vaginal muscles. Some have found relief with Botox injections as they paralyze the muscles that contract painfully. A study by the Plastic Surgery Professional Association found that out of 30 patients who received Botox injections, 29 were able to have pain-free sex after treatment. That doesn’t mean Botox is a magic bullet for sexual pain, though, because vaginismus doesn’t just have physical causes. It also can be brought on by emotional trauma and anxiety about having sex, so just jabbing women in the vagina with Botox may stop the physical pain, but it won’t necessarily make sex more fulfilling.