Christina. Prince Albert. No, these aren’t just celebrities, they are names for types of piercings. Down there. Frenum, ampallang, apradavya, inner labia, outer labia. Those aren’t countries, they’re some of the popular genital piercing spots for males and females. Young people today are flocking to the piercing parlors to find new places to get pierced. Places your mother would have never imagined.
Kristen Byers, human biology freshman, doesn’t find “down-low” piercings strange at all. “If you can pinch it, you can pierce it,” Byers said. She has a total of 12 piercings, including a vertical hood piercing. A vertical hood is one of the many piercing options for the female genitalia where the skin around the clitoris is pierced from top to bottom. It is often confused with a clitoris piercing, but the two are different because, with the vertical hood, the jewelry does not penetrate the clitoris. While this piercing isn’t exactly on display to the world, Byers is still happy with it. “I think it looks nice…I did it for me, not anyone else.”
[pinch] There are several options available for a genital piercing for both males and females. Besides the vertical hood, one of the most talked about piercings for females is a clitoris piercing, where the jewelry goes through the actual clitoris. (OUCH!) Though many people have heard of it, the piercing is actually quite rare because a woman has to have the perfect anatomy to withstand such a piercing: a large, easily exposed clitoris.
One of the easier and more popular female piercings is the inner labia. The jewelry is inserted into the inner lips of the vulva and is not as painful as other piercing options, because the tissue is easy to stretch. The piercing of the outer labia, better known as a Christina, is where the piercing goes through the v-shaped junction at the top of the outer lips of the vagina. It is not very popular because it has a healing time of three to four months and has a high rejection rate. With the Christina piercing, natural body movements can cause it to twist, which results in great discomfort, therefore not making it a practical option.
The most popular piercing for males is the Prince Albert, which is a piercing that enters the urethra and sits below the head of the penis. It heals quickly, has minimal pain for most men and is said to be the most sexually stimulating. One of the more difficult male piercings is the ampallang. This piercing goes horizontally through the head of the penis and is difficult to perform because the barbell or piercing must be in a straight line, making the process rather slow and painful for men.
Kevin Tarbell, senior piercer and manager at Splash of Color on Grand River Avenue, sees these types of piercings quite often. “Obviously a lot of people get the nipples, but generally, I’d say for females [the most common] is the vertical hood, and for males, it’s the Prince Albert or the frenum,” Tarbell said. The frenum is a piercing on the underside of the penis right below the head.
According to Tarbell, there are approximately 15 types of genital piercings for males and around eight for females. He has seen a variety of combinations. “There are endless possibilities; I’ve seen people with a hundred,” Tarbell said.
Genital piercings are neither new nor unique to American society. They have been around for centuries and have found places in many different cultures. But instead of having a piercing just for a fashion statement or a form of personal expression, private piercings play different roles in different parts of the world. For instance, in ancient times, the Romans would pierce their nipples and attach their capes to them.
The aforementioned Prince Albert piercing originated in 1825. It was said Prince Albert pierced his penis in order to hook it to a ring on the inside of his leg to avoid creating a bulge in tight pants. Somehow in modern times we’ve lost these reasons to pierce, since capes are less common and a bulge is not something shameful for modern men. Despite these obsolete reasons, many still choose to adorn themselves with jewlery in private places.
[cool] In American culture the reasons for getting pierced vary, but for most, it’s simply personal preference. Bryan Bentz, an advertising sophomore, has piercings in his frenum and both nipples. Bentz likes his piercings because they make a statement. “I guess I’m also kind of out there to show that piercings don’t make you a rebel and all that stuff,” Bentz said. “Just like tattoos are an expression of oneself, I think piercings are as well.”
He said he also feels body jewelry can enhance a person’s life. “I just think it’s kind of different and cool; it’s nice having stuff like that, that people don’t know about you,” Bentz said.
Others have more specific uses for genital piercings. Although piercing sensitive areas with sharp needles is defintely more painful than feathers and furry, red handcuffs, but some say it’s worth it for the increased sexual pleasure some experience. Theresa Szichak, a nurse of the Adolescent Health Clinic Charge Nurse in Willow Plaza Teen Health Clinic in Lansing, does not have first-hand experience with piercings increasing sexual pleasure, but she said, “There are certainly those that believe it does.”
Many students have no desire to pinch and pierce their loins. Spanish freshman Stephanie Tom, who has only her ears pierced, said she couldn’t imagine having a piercing anywhere near her genitals. “It’s sick,” Tom said. “No one will see it; it seems like a waste of money.” Similarly, civil engineering freshman Nick Dietz doesn’t have any piercings and doesn’t understand the trend. He said he would never get a genital piercing. “I think that the piercings are really strange,” Dietz said. “I don’t understand why someone would want to do that, because I imagine it would really hurt and get in the way at times.”
As with any piercing, genital and nipple piercings also have health risks. Szichak said genital piercings can lead to a number of problems, including mutilation of tissue, infection, accidental piercing of the urethra and erectile dysfunction in males. Szichak also said genital piercings create an increased risk of infection because of their location. “In any moist environment, bacteria will grow and there is a greater risk of infection,” Szichak said. “This includes genital piercings.”
The decision to give your penis a Prince Albert or get a vertical hood piercing is ultimately in your hands and down your pants. It could brighten up a dark area, enhance bedroom activities or be unimaginably painful. In any case, it may be the only way some people will ever have a celebrity anywhere near their bikini line.

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