Generous piercings have become an integral part of cultures around the world over time, from rites of passage to aesthetic expression. Piercings offer an opportunity to express one’s individuality, eschewing conformity. There’s a genital piercing for everyone, whether you want to show it off or keep it a secret.
Genital piercing is a form of body piercing that involves piercing a part of the genitalia in order to make it suitable for wearing jewelry. In addition, the term may also be used to describe all body piercings in the areas of the anus, perineum, genitalia, and mons pubis, including anal, guiche, and pubic piercings that do not involve perforation of the genitalia. No matter what sex someone is, they can get a piercing, and there are many forms of piercings available. Additionally, some piercings enhance sexual pleasure by increasing stimulation. Beautification and individualization are the main goals. In many tribal societies, such as in South and East Asia, where they have been a part of the tradition since ancient times, there are women with pierced female organs. Early records of genital piercing can be found in the Kama Sutra, which dates back over 2000 years.
Individuals choose genital piercings based on their own personal preferences. In order to guide your decision, we present some of the most popular male and female genital piercings.
History of Genital Piercing
Tradition has it that genital piercings originated in South East Asia, where they can be found in tribes varying from India to Borneo. Piercings of the genitals have a long history, with the Kama Sutra (second century) mentioning the Apadravya, a male genital piercing.
On the island of Borneo, there are numerous tribes who wear ampallangs, which are similarly pierced (but pass horizontally through the glans rather than vertically). Western countries first encountered female genital piercings as a result of ethnographic research, such as that performed by explorers in the 19th century. Dutch explorer Anton Willem Nieuwenhuis described an ampallang piercing in his ethnographic account In Centraal Borneo: reis van Pontianak naar Samarinda, which documents his journey through Borneo in 1897:
″The young men through the tattoo, because it is performed by them only to a limited extent, much less than women to suffer for it but they must in order to gain their full manhood, subject of another test, namely the through-hole the glans penis. This operation procedure is as follows: First, the glans made anemic by pressing between the two arms of a folded over strip of bamboo. At each of these arms are opposite each other where needed openings through which one after the round pressed glans become less sensitive to an acute kapfernen pin; formerly was used for this purpose a pointed bamboo sticks. The bamboo and the clamp is removed by means of a cord attached to pin left in the opening until the channel is healed. Later, the copper pin (utang) by another, usually through a tin, replaced, which is worn at all times, making only heavy work or strenuous operations of the metal pin a wooden square. Particularly brave men enjoy with the chief’s prerogative to be allowed to wear the penis a ring in the scales of the pangolin cut and blunt teeth is occupied; sometimes they can also be crossed with the first channel, a second by the glans . Drill In addition to the Kayan themselves, engage in many Malays from the upper Kapuas this art. The pain during surgery do not seem to be very violent, and it has only rarely serious consequences, although until recovery can often take a month.″ – Anton Willem Nieuwenhuis
The practice of piercing the genitals was a short-lived trend at the end of the 19th century, especially among the upper classes. As the Western world entered the Victorian era, body piercing reemerged on the scene. During the Victorian era, many men and women of Victorian royalty chose to get nipples and genital piercings.
In the western world, however, genital piercings became uncommon in the second half of the 20th century, and popularity declined again. By the 1970s, early piercing pioneers like Jim Ward and Doug Malloy, many of whom worked at The Gauntlet in Los Angeles, introduced them to the emerging body modification community. Information about genital piercings became accessible to a wider community in 1977 because of the launch of Piercing Fans International Quarterly. Modern primitives, a movement that developed in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 1980s, sported piercings on their bodies. The practice of genital piercing was confined to a body modification subculture until only the 21st century.
Since the start of the 21st century, genital piercings have become increasingly popular: women with vertical clitoral hood piercings, men with Prince Albert piercings
As with nipple piercings, genital piercings became increasingly popular and part of mainstream culture in the second decade of the 21st century, with both ‘nice’ and ‘normal’ people endorsing them. There have been many celebrities who have stated that they have or plan to have genital piercings, such as Christina Aguilera, Fantasia Barrino, Pete Doherty, Lady Gaga, Janet Jackson, Lenny Kravitz, Katarina Waters, and Pete Wentz. There is a growing demand for genital piercings nowadays, especially among young adults and college students.
As regards (female) genital piercings, Marilyn W. Edmunds, adjunct clinical professor at Johns Hopkins University, stated, “Women with genital piercings are no longer on the social fringe or part of the ‘punk’ culture who are experimenting with behaviors that are ‘socially provocative.’ Over the past 30 years, genital piercing has become mainstream, and women engage in it for a variety of reasons.″
A professional piercer from the UK, Chelsea Bunz, believes the clearly existing rise in popularity could simply be the result of more individuals openly talking about their genital piercings. ″I think genital piercing has always been popular – it’s just discussed more openly these days, which makes it increasingly acceptable to the mainstream. People from all classes and professions have them (…).”
Popular Types of Male Genital Piercings
Men are most likely to get the following types of male genital piercings:
- Prince Albert/Reverse Prince Albert
- Apadravya & Ampallang
Prince Albert Piercing
One of the most well-known genital piercings for men is Prince Albert. Insertion is made into the glans along the shaft below the penis head, then passes through the urethra and emerges from the head of the penis.
There is a variation known as the reverse Prince Albert, where the hole is pierced at the top of the glans and the piercing goes through the urethra.
Captive bead rings are the traditional jewelry of Prince Albert. As well as segment rings, Prince’s wands, circular barbells, and curved barbells, there are other jewelry types. The pierced area is typically stretched soon after being pierced with a gauge between 12 and 10.
Depending on the anatomy, the initial stretch varies from 8g to 2g. Once this has healed, people frequently stretch further.
Frenum piercings are genital piercings that penetrate the skin on the underside of the shaft of the penis. In some ways, it is similar to a frenulum piercing, or a web piercing. The thin tissue between the head and the shaft is the pierced area.
Jacob’s ladder or frenum ladder refers to having multiple piercings along the frenum. A standard frenum piercing and a ladder frenum piercing will both typically use a curved barbell or captive bead ring for jewelry.
Apadravya & Ampallang Piercings
An apadravya is an implement used to enlarge the penis during sex. It gets its name from a Kama Sutra term. Penis head piercings are male genital piercings that pass vertically through the body. Ampallang piercings pass vertically through the body.
Additionally, the placement differs from the penetration angle. In contrast, apadravya piercings go through the urethra, while ampallang piercings can go through or above the urethra.
The jewelry for both piercings is a straight barbell. The barbell should be long enough to accommodate swelling and erection.
Dydoes are genital piercings for men that pierce the ridge on the penis head. A “crown” surrounding the head of the penis can be constructed as a single, as a pair, or as a “crown” encircling the single. Jewelry is a curved barbell used by dydoes.
A single dydoe is usually positioned in the middle of the ridge, while pairs are positioned on either side of the middle.
The scrotum, or hafada, piercing is a surface piercing that can be seen anywhere on the scrotum. There is loose, flexible skin here, so this piercing is less prone to rejection and migration than conventional surface piercings. In addition to captive bead rings, curved barbells and straight barbells are often used for scrotum piercings.
Guiche piercings are not exclusively male genital piercings, but they are less popular among women. It’s a piercing along the perineum that usually runs horizontally. Aguiche ladder consists of several guiche piercings.
Guiche piercings are commonly performed with captive bead rings, curved, circular, or straight barbells, and flesh tunnels.
What Types of Body Jewelry are there for Genital Piercings?
Several different types of jewelry are available for male genital piercings, depending on the piercing. We will briefly cover some of the most popular options below:
Penis Head Piercing Jewelry
- Short straight barbell, anointed with ball bearings on either end.
- Straight barbell with half balls
- Kuno piercing ring
Penis Shaft Piercing Jewelry
- Straight barbells
- Circular barbells
- Captive Rings
- Bent barbell with slave ring
- Circular barbell with slave ring
- Prince Albert wand
Pubic Piercing Jewelry
- Captive rings
- Circular barbells
- Micro straight barbells
- Bent barbells
Scrotal Piercing Jewelry
- Captive rings
- Circular barbells
- Micro straight barbells
- Bent barbells (often the ideal choice)
Do Male Genital Piercings Hurt?
Since the skin and tissue of the male genital area are being pierced, male genital piercings will hurt to some degree. A few factors will determine how much pain you experience:
- Your piercer’s level of experience
- Depending on the type of piercing
- It depends on your level of sensitivity
- Pain tolerance varies from individual to individual
Apadravya piercing, for instance, is one of the more painful options, while Dyode (penis head) piercings are among the least painful.
Getting expert advice on pain and placement can be obtained by speaking with your piercing professional.
Is genital piercing associated with increased sensitivity?
It’s both true and false. As everyone’s body reacts differently, your experience may differ from someone else’s. There are, however, a number of male genital piercing options that can enhance both your (and your partner’s) sexual pleasure and stimulation.
The sensitivity may be increased or decreased by other types of piercings. A candid conversation with your piercing professional about your expectations and concerns is the best course of action.
Is it true that all piercers do genital piercings?
What a great question. It is a simple one to answer. The short answer is no. The vast majority of piercers do not handle them at all, while others handle just certain types. To learn more about the piercer’s policies, offerings, and experience, reach out ahead of time. When it comes to male genital piercings, you really don’t want someone who doesn’t have much experience putting a needle in one of your body’s most sensitive and important places.
Popular Types of Female Genital Piercings
Among the most common types of female genital piercing are:
- Clitoral Hood
It’s important to know that anatomically speaking, “vagina piercing” is a misnomer — the vagina is the internal canal, and no piercer will get up inside of you to plant jewels. The industry term “genital piercing” is most commonly used, and “vulva piercing” would be the most accurate description of people with vaginal piercings. The vulva is the external part of the genitalia, including the external clitoris, inner and outer labia, the vaginal opening, and the mons pubis – these are the areas where a “vaginal piercing” can be done.
Elayne Angel, a piercer who specializes in nipple and genital piercing and the author of The Piercing Bible: The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing, and Minnesota body piercers Cole Radermache and Jack Kalvser with Leviticus Body Piercing explain the different types of vaginal piercing below. I’m sure there are many!
A clit piercing doesn’t actually pierce the clitoris but rather the hood that surrounds the external clitoris, which is the nub at the top of the vulva. The following are the most common types of clit piercings.
- Clitoral glans piercing. The only kind of “clit piercing” that involves actually piercing your clitoris is this procedure. Angel points out that this piercing is actually the least common vaginal piercing since people must have a large enough clit and small enough hood for it to even be physically possible.
- Vertical hood piercing, aka the VCH piercing. According to Angel, this type of piercing is the most popular. Her best description: a clit sandwich. (She once performed 22 in one day.) The barbell is passed vertically through the clitoral hood so that one end rests against the clitoral hood and the other rests against the clit. “It may look like an intense piercing, but this skin is very fine, so the piercing passes through a minimal amount of tissue, and most of the bar is simply resting beneath the hood—against the clitoris,” says Angel. “I’ve had plenty of clients say their ear or nose piercing was worse.”
- Horizontal clitoral hood piercing, aka the HCH piercing. You might look good with this piercing, but it won’t benefit you at all. This piercing is done through the hood tissue and rests on the hood, not the clitoris itself. To make an HCH piercing stimulating, the clitoral glans need to be somewhat exposed, the piercing must be perfectly placed, and the jewelry should be sized in a way that allows the bed to sense the clit.
- Triangle piercing. A horizontal piercing, this procedure involves making a hole and a post at the base of the clitoral hood, just beneath the highest point of the clitoral shaft, explains Angel. The clitoral shaft is stimulated and supported by this piercing when done correctly. This piercing stimulates the clit from the back, as opposed to other clit piercings which stimulate the clit from the front. “This one can be pretty life-changing. I’ve had multiple clients with primary anorgasmia (never had an orgasm) achieve them for the first time after getting the triangle piercing!” she says.
- The Princess Diana piercing. The piercing is similar to a vertical clitoral piercing, but instead of being done in the middle of the clitoral hood, it is done off to the side. People will have one on each side if there is anatomical symmetry. Additionally, if the hood is large enough, it may be possible to do a three-piece combination as well. Welcome, sensation. Depending on the piercee’s gender identity, these are sometimes called Duke’s piercings.
An alternative name for the Christina piercing is Venus piercing, as this piercing is a vertical piercing that looks like a belly button but is located on the mons pubis, that plush pad of skin above the apex of the labia. According to Angel, in order to be anatomically suitable for a Christina piercing, the pubic mound must be pliable, and the hood must have a defined divot where the vulva leaves the hood since this is where the bottom of the jewelry will be placed.
This piercing has a lengthy healing time of six to nine months, which is why many genital piercers, including Angel, advise against it. Frontal sex can be hindered for months, and even permanently in some cases, she warns. However, if you’re determined to get it, there’s always the doggy-style option.
It is possible to pierce the labia majora (the outer lip) and labia minora (the inner lip). The labia majora and minora can be pierced anywhere along the dense tissue surrounding the lobes, just as the ear can be pierced anywhere along with its dense tissue. Just as you can get your ear pierced on one side or both sides for symmetry, you can also pierce your labia. There are some vulva owners who aren’t anatomically suited to a labia piercing, however: “The inner lip must be sufficiently long,” Angel said.
In some cases, people have asymmetry in their inner lips, and can only have one pierced; in other cases, both need to be pierced.
According to Angel, an outer labia piercing may add to sexual pleasure, although it is usually an ornamental piercing. By placing it next to the clitoris, it may stimulate the clitoris from a side angle, whereas if it’s placed closer to the vaginal opening, it may rub against a penis or finger during penetrative intercourse.
Performed at the rear entrance of the vagina, right by the perineum (the sensitive area between the vagina and anus), the fourchette piercing can only be performed on folks who have a pinchable amount of skin on the back. According to Angel, it is similar to the guiche piercing on people with penises. She says the sensation may be interesting, but not in the same way that a clit piercing would. If your partner has a penis, you are likely to feel it during penetrative intercourse.
Princess Albertina piercing
There’s a procedure called “Prince Albert,” whereby people with factory-installed penises have their urethra pierced. People who own the Vulva can undergo the procedure. Due to the recessed location of the piercing, this is a fairly rare piercing that can be challenging to perform. The ring enters the urethra and exits about three-eighths of an inch back and rests in the opening of the vaginal canal. It can provide a great deal of stimulation during penetration, but, it probably is not for those who have never played with their urethra before.
Unisex genital piercings
Body piercings that do not involve perforating the genitalia but are called “genital piercings” by convention can be worn by both sexes. The pubic piercing is situated above the penis in males and on the mons pubic in females (similar to the Christina piercing, but horizontal). The guiche piercing passes horizontally through the perineum, whereas the anal piercing passes through the anus.
How Is a Genital Piercing Done?
Professional genital piercing should only be done by licensed professionals. A piercer does not have to be licensed in all states, which means in some areas, someone with no training can open a piercing salon. If you find someone who is registered with the Association of Professional Piercers (APP), an organization that makes safety rules for people doing piercings, you have found a qualified professional. In order to register with the APP, the person must demonstrate compliance with the organization’s standards.
A piercer begins by cleaning the skin and marking the location of the piercing before doing the piercing. Once the needle has been threaded through the skin, the piercer attaches the jewelry to it. You should receive instructions on how to take care of your piercing from the piercer after the procedure is complete.
How Would Someone Know the Piercing Is Being Done Safely?
If you decide to get a piercing, you should look for several things:
- According to the APP, the piercer should be registered.
- The room where the piercing is performed should be clean and sanitary.
- Only sterile, new, unopened, and disposable instruments should be used for the procedure. Unopened, sterile jewelry should also be used. During the procedure, you should see the piercer open the instruments and jewelry. The piercer shouldn’t have done so before you arrive.
- Piercing instruments should be sterilized in an autoclave if the piercer does not use disposable ones. An autoclave is a device that sterilizes equipment and supplies. If a piercing gun is being used, do not get the piercing done there. In most cases, piercing guns cannot be sterilized in an autoclave.
- When opening instrument packages and performing procedures, the piercer and others working in the salon should wash their hands and wear gloves.
Motives of Genital Piercing
Like most body piercings, genital piercings are often done for aesthetic reasons and as an expression of personal style. Additionally, some types of genital piercing (but not all) increase sensitivity and provide additional stimulation during sexual intercourse. Elayne Angel, body piercing pioneer, a former member of The Gauntlet, and inventor of several genital piercings such as the fourchette and the lorum, wrote an expert report for the Association of Professional Piercers on individual motives and preferences:
Left: The Christina piercing is primarily done for aesthetic reasons, as it requires only minor additional stimulation. Right: The Apadravya has additional benefits beyond aesthetics, like enhancing sexual stimulation for both partners.
“Many adults are interested in genital piercing but aren’t really sure which of the many options to select. They want to know which is the “best piercing” but there is no “one-piercing-fits-all” answer. It depends on many factors and highly individual desires and preferences (without even bringing individual anatomy in to the discussion yet). For some clients the most important aspect is that the piercing pleases their partner. Others have the priority of increasing their own sensation in a particular area or manner. Some want the one that will show the most, others to heal the fastest, yet others want one that is least likely to bleed! And on it goes. You will need to interview each client to determine the specific motivations and expectations for genital piercings. Inquire about which piercing(s) are of interest—and why? Is stimulation or aesthetics a primary motivation? Is the stimulation important more for the piercee, or does the piercee desire that sensation more forhis/her partner? Then there are deeper specifics to probe (pardon the expression) such as whether the goal is increased sensation during penetration, or enhanced clitoral stimulation.[…]″ -– Elayne Angel
A person’s motivation can be based solely on aesthetic preference. The purpose of genital piercings is to add beauty to the wearer, just like all other types of body piercing. Metro’s Violet Fenn stated, “For me personally, it was sheer aesthetics – I just like how it looks. Even if I was the only person who ever saw my piercing, I’d like it in the same way that I like having painted toenails – something pretty for my own personal pleasure.″
Culture and lifestyle
Many traditional cultures perform these piercings as a rite of passage during adolescence, symbolically and literally marking the entrance into adulthood. They also function as markers of cultural identity. A circumcision motivated by religious belief may be considered a “purification of the flesh” among members of the same faith and a common bodily sign. In contemporary western society, the modern primitive has revived the traditional meanings of modifying the body. The subculture adopted genital piercing as a means of individuation and spirituality, inspired by ethnographic accounts of tribal practices.
Contemporary western society
The overwhelming majority of people who get genital piercings today feel a sense of uniqueness and non-conformity. An evaluation of a qualitative dataset of 484 self-reports and characteristics of men and women with genital piercings published in 2015 found that:
″Although in and of themselves, none of these findings necessarily indicates that genital piercings reinforce and validate traditional gender and sexual norms, collectively, our interpretation of these findings does seem to lean in that direction and, at minimum, provides little reason to believe that genital piercings offer any kind of resistance to these norms. Thus, while not automatically discounting the findings and arguments of prior research, we speculate that perhaps the social and cultural meanings of genital piercings have changed so that while at an earlier time, persons with genital piercings may have indeed perceived their piercings as being markers of resistance or as signs of individuality or of subcultural identity, today, genital piercings are, by and large, just another mainstream and fairly conventional type of body decoration and adornment. […] Our research does appear consistent with the possibility that genital piercings are well on their way toward both popular and fashionable acceptance.″ – Jeremy N. Thomas, Professor of Sociology
Enhanced pleasure and sensation
In addition, genital piercings can enhance sexual pleasure during masturbation, foreplay, and intercourse. A female genital piercing does this only to the wearer, whereas a male genital piercing can do this to the wearer and the person pierced as the jewelry stimulates both the wearer’s glans and the penetrated partner’s vaginal wall or anus. The genital physiology of women seems to make them more susceptible to sexual pleasure from both their own as well as their partner’s genital piercings.
For the sexual partner
It has been reported that this effect is especially evident with piercings going through the glans penis, such as the apadravya and ampallang. Among the Dayak people of Sarawak, Borneo, women prefer men with an ampallang, claiming that sexual relations without one would be dull:
Paolo Mantegazza said, “The Dayak women have the right to insist upon the ampallang and if the man refuses, they may seek separation.” They say that the embrace without this contrivance is plain rice; with it is rice with salt. An account by the anthropologist Tom Harrisson, who spent much of his life in Borneo and interviewed natives about the traditional ampallang. The purpose of this device is, according to him, to enhance the sexual pleasure of women by stimulating and extending the inner walls of the vagina. It has been found to be successful in this regard.
For the pierced person
During masturbation or sexual contact, piercings that stimulate the sensitive urethra will increase sensation for men. Those female genital piercings that are reported to enhance pleasure are those that pass through or near the clitoris, such as the clitoris piercing and clitoral hood piercing. In a study at the University of South Alabama, researchers found a positive relationship between vertical clitoral hood piercings and desire, frequency of intercourse, and sexual arousal. However, this could depend on many factors, such as placement, jewelry shape, and the individual. By stimulating the underside of the clitoral glans, an area that is usually not stimulated at all, the triangle piercing is known to be quite pleasurable.
Potential health risks
When it comes to piercings, improper hygiene can carry the risk of transmitting blood-borne diseases and may lead to infection during the healing process.
Physicians believe that male genital piercing increases the risk of STD transmission by making safer sex barriers (condoms) less effective. The majority of body art enthusiasts and professional piercers believe these risks are exaggerated or nonexistent. Two surveys found that 5% to 18% of men with genital piercings were experiencing unspecified “problems with condom use,” though it is unclear how many of these men regularly used condoms. In conclusion, there is no conclusive evidence that genital piercing wearers are more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections.
A genital piercing can take anywhere between a week and six months to fully heal, depending on the piercing site and individual characteristics. In the interim, precautions should be taken against possible causes of infection, such as daily brushing. If you have a freshly pierced earlobe, then you should abstain from sexual activity for a few days, and also use physical protection barriers, such as condoms, until the piercing is fully healed.
Here are some tips to minimize the risk of complications following genital piercing:
- Make sure you understand and follow the instructions for keeping the area clean, washing with a diluted saline solution regularly
- During the healing process, it is important not to handle the genital piercing or allow others to handle it.
- Hands should always be washed before touching or cleaning the genital area.
- Two weeks following a piercing is a good time to avoid sexual activity.
- You should clean the pierced area with saline solution after having sex.
- Consider using a condom or other barrier protection when engaging in sexual activity.
- Prior to urination, clean the area where the piercing is located near the urethra.
- Wait until the piercing has healed before using a hot tub or swimming.
- It is important to remember that infections may occur at the site of the piercing, even after it has healed. Microorganisms can get under the skin at the site of the piercing. Therefore, watch for signs of infection and contact your doctor if any of the following symptoms appear. Do not attempt to treat the infection yourself.