What to Know Before Getting a Genital Piercing

Sep 4, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. ET
Image: Getty Images

People are curious about genital piercings. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? Curiosity.

Whether you’re debating getting one for yourself or your inquisitiveness has just gotten the best of you, we chatted with both a licensed physician and an American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists-certified sex educator to get the lowdown on all things genital piercings.

More: Do Daith piercings really cure migraines?

Keep reading to find out the sexual benefits, health risks and medical information related to getting a genital piercing.

Do genital piercings increase sensitivity?

There are many reasons that a person may decide to pierce their nipples, clitoris, clitoral hood or labia. Those reasons can be purely aesthetic, erotic or a combination of both.

“Pierced sexual organs can appear more beautiful and exotic to some, erotic to others, and that can be to both the beholder and/or the beholden,” says Eric Marlowe Garrison, who is also the author of best-seller Mastering Multiple-Position Sex. “The stimulation may be a placebo effect, but it can also be a result of increased sensitivity. I just advised a client this morning to try ice cubes on her piercing in her clitoral hood to experience temperature play.”

Can genital piercings cause nerve damage?

Short answer: Potentially. Some people will orgasm easier because of the piercing, Garrison says, “but when we pierce nipples and other sensual body parts, we can cause nerve damage.”

Nerve damage is one of the most common complications associated with an intimate piercing. One of the most sensitive areas to nerve damage is the clitoris, which is why it is seldom pierced directly. Clitoral piercings include the vertical hood, horizontal hood or the "Christina" (above the clitoris) but never exactly on it, as it has a greater risk for damage and also (generally speaking) isn’t usually big enough to support the weight of jewelry.

“Concerns include bleeding, infections, scarring or keloid formation,” explains Dr. Kim Walker, a former family medicine doctor in Mechanicsville, Virginia. “Nerve injury resulting in altered or no sensation [is also a risk]. All of these are rare, but should be considered risks.”

There can be the possibility of nerve damage, an infection, tearing, rejection and bruising, Garrison adds, but these are rare. There is also the chance of a nickel allergy or other reactions to the jewelry.

Note that allergies, nerve damage, infection and rejection are always a piercing concern, regardless of what you are getting pierced.

Are genital piercings safe?

The best way to navigate the medical risks of genital piercings while making sure you’re healthy and safe, Garrison advises, is to do your research, especially on the person who will be doing the piercing.

“My advice is to choose your piercer wisely, not just for safety and low pain, but for the pleasure that you hope to achieve," he says. "Realize, too, some people get instant pleasure from the piercing experience, much like people like getting a tattoo as well as looking at it and touching it.” Garrison adds. He suggests doing your research before you begin in order to save "money, time and your sex organs."

Can vaginal piercings cause orgasm just from the sensation & not only during a sexual act?

Yep. Those stories you’ve heard about women with piercings walking down the street and orgasming — they’re real. Or at least they could be.

“I have heard some women-identified persons orgasming from their piercing alone, and that can be because they might be in-tune to their clitoris or other pierced part. Some will say that the rubbing of it is highly erotic,” Garrison reveals.

Are genital piercings illegal?

No, genital piercings are not illegal in the U.S., but could be in other countries. In 2015, for instance, the U.K. Department of Health passed new legislation that classified all vaginal piercings for nonmedical reasons under the umbrella of genital mutilation. Thusly, they are to be reported.

More: What is it with body modifications?

How common are genital piercings?

Honestly, we don’t actually know. A 2002 survey by the Mayo Clinic examined 454 college undergraduates and reported that 2.4 percent of women had genital piercings. While people aren’t exactly forthright about their piercings, the actual act of piercing itself isn’t always done in a space conducive to gathering statistics.

“It is very hard to calculate the numbers of pierced sex organs because they can include so many parts of the body,” Garrison says. “Many piercers don’t keep track of their numbers, some people self-pierce and still yet, [others] will be pierced by a lover, spouse or dom.” But it's safe to say that if you are curious or looking to get a genital piercing, it's something best left up to the experts.

By Stephanie Osmanski

Originally published on HelloFlo.