What your bellybutton says about your health

Woman making heart shape with hands around her bellybutton

What does your bellybutton say about you? (Picture: Getty)

Navels, belly buttons, innies or outies… whatever term you use, your umbilicus may have plenty to tell you about the state of your health.

For some, they are the thing of nightmares – omphalophobia (the fear of belly buttons) is a real condition. For others, they are a fashion accessory to be shown off in a crop top, or decorated with a body piercing.

Whatever your feelings about belly buttons, one thing’s for sure – it once joined you to your mother. The umbilical cord is severed at birth to leave just a small clamped stump that progressively withers and falls away a week or two later.

What you’re left with, in most cases, is a small wrinkled depression. That’s if you have an ‘innie’, as most of us – 90% apparently – do. From this point, the belly button seems to become redundant – other than to gather dust and fluff.

But that’s not the whole story – your navel has more depth to it than just a few millimetres.

The umbilicus is an access point for the vessels carrying blood to and from the foetus. These have come from the placenta and run through the umbilical cord, coated in Wharton’s jelly – a gelatinous connective tissue contained in the cord that insulates and protects them.

Bellybuttons are where the umbilical cord connects (Picture: Getty)

There are normally three vessels within the cord. The one carrying oxygen and nutrients to the foetus is the umbilical vein. It passes through the umbilicus and feeds into the developing foetal circulation.

There are also two umbilical arteries, though these carry deoxygenated blood and waste products, flowing in the other direction back to the placenta.

This circulation is not needed after the baby is born, and once disconnected from the placenta the umbilical vessels naturally close up. But the little stump of cut cord left clinging on can still be of use for a short time, especially in newborn babies who are poorly. The vessels can have drip lines inserted and be used for infusions of medicine, or have blood samples taken from them for testing.

The umbilicus is a portal in the wall of the abdomen – it’s a little-known fact that during your embryonic development your intestines actually have to leave your abdominal cavity because of limited space, but return a few weeks later. They do so via the umbilicus, passing into the cord.

As a result the umbilicus is not just an access point, but a point of weakness. An umbilical hernia occurs if a section of intestine pokes through any gap. This may require an operation to correct it.

Most of us are ‘innies’ (Picture: Getty)

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Source:: Metro


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