[face]You\’ve been seeing a special someone for a while now, and you decide you\’d like to take your relationship to the next step. Wanting to demonstrate your affection, you take charge and plan a special night. Everything is going just as planned – the dinner you spent three hours preparing was delicious, the flowers were a hit, and all the candles have stayed lit. Things start getting hot and heavy, and as you passionately kiss your lover\’s neck, you sensually whisper your intentions to orally please them like they\’ve never experienced. Your lips slowly move down, closer and closer to their destination, until you\’re removing the last piece of material between you and your lover. And then…whoa. You discover that your love interest has a kinky fascination in genital adornment. But, can you…lick that? Are you going to…get caught on it? Is it…safe?
The bejeweling method used for rebellion, self-satisfaction, and adornment is a whole new league when placed down-under. \”They\’re for you,\” said social relations senior Emily, who prefers to use her first name only. Under concealment, erotic piercings – genital, nipple, and tongue jewels – are sometimes a tabled discussion that is as secretive as the existence of such a piercing. But the placement, risks, and procedures for this sort of jewelry are all really important factors that ought to be flushed out rather than squelched from the public eye.
The Down-There Nitty Gritty
Erotic piercing, or those in regions commonly associated with sexual pleasure, is more varied than one may think. Reader, beware: The down-there region is full of all sorts of special little nooks and crannies just waiting to be ornamented with a sterile piece of metal, many of which are about to be spelled out.
[nip]Nipple piercing is common for both males and females, as nipples can be stimulated for sexual pleasure for both sexes. That being said, sexual arousal is not the only reason for a nipple ring. They can also be sought out for visual appeal, or other personal reasons. When Emily went home for winter break her sophomore year, her \”least crazy friend\” had gotten one nipple done. \”So I got mine done at 11 a.m. … it wasn\’t the best reason,\” said Emily, who eventually got her second nipple pierced to be symmetrical. She said there was an after period of pain for about 24 hours, but that it was mostly just soreness.
Contrarily, a male who was at East Lansing\’s Splash of Color on Grand River getting his penis double pierced said his nipple piercings hurt intensely for about 10 hours after the piercing, and that they were far more painful than his penis piercing experience. He was at the studio with his girlfriend that had her vertical clitoral hood piercing preformed a couple days prior, and another male friend who had his penis pierced a year ago. The three prefer to remain anonymous, and will be referenced with the pseudonyms of Robert and Jodi (the couple) and Henry (the friend). Wouldn\’t want to ruin the surprise, after all.
While the types of nipple piercing are relatively limited (patrons can chose from vertical, horizontal, or any other angled-direction), the jewelry can be as simple as a ring or a barbell or as decorative as a holiday ornament. The ring passes through the base of the nipple, and according to Kevin Tarbell of Splash of Color tattoo and piercing studio, it generally takes two to three months to heal for a male and two to six months for a female.
Genitalia, Meet Needle
When a woman says that she has her clitoris pierced, she generally means that she has her vertical clitoral hood (VCH) pierced, which is the most common female genital piercing. With a VCH, the healing is relatively quick and the experience can be rather sensual, depending on whom you ask. Ideally, the bead of a ring will rest on the aroused clitoris with a VCH. Jodi said she did experience sexual stimulation as a result of her piercing, which she had gotten just a couple days prior. Emily has her VCH pierced as well and says that her genital piercing did not increase sexual pleasure, although she realizes that that is a contested answer and that many do find it arousing. \”Oh my God, yes. Very sharp crazy pain,\” said Emily of the VCH piercing experience. Emily followed this by saying there was barely a healing period, and she seemed fine immediately afterward.
Other genital piercing options for women include the inner labia, which passes through the labia minora; the outer labia, which passes through the labia majora; the triangle piercing, which passes underneath the clitoris shaft; and the clitoris itself, which is a piercing highly dependent on a woman\’s anatomy. For the clitoris to be pierced, it must be large enough, and the recipient must be aware of the potential risk of losing sensation in the clitoris – the female organ with the sole known purpose of sexual pleasure. Splash of Color does not offer this piercing, said Tarbell, and he would recommend having it preformed by only a few professionals in the country.
Additional female-genital piercing options exist as well, such as the Christina (female pubic piercing), fourchette (rear vagina piercing), Isabella (deep clitoral hood piercing), and Princess Albertina (transurethral piercing). Images and descriptions of these piercings are available at bmezine.com. Each unique piercing has its own healing time frame and possible sensuality, but while some could be more pleasing than others, all situations vary with subjectivity. The triangle piercing is noted, however, to offer a unique sort of stimulation only available to those with the piercing, as the area it stimulates (located internally) is not reachable manually.
As may be expected by the greater exposed surface area of the male genital region, piercing there is even more varied than the female sort. The ring can go through the glands, head, shaft, urethra, foreskin, scrotum, and surface skin, and the piercing can be deep, shallow, or connect to another one. The list of types is long, and the pictures are not for the squeamish. Potentially most notorious is the Prince Albert (PA) that passes through the urethra, coming out the tip of the penis. An exotic, extreme, and rare type is the prince\’s wand, which is compared in shape to a policeman\’s baton. A hollow tube, the prince\’s wand jewelry unit is inserted into the urethra, and the wearer will urinate through it. Its placement requires measurement of the penis both erect and flaccid, and a PA, whose hole is used to keep the piercing in place, must accompany it. The idea of this piercing is similar to the concept of a catheter used for medical procedures, and its uniqueness of insertion, price and appeal generally make it a less common option.
You Did it…Why?
The motivation for someone to adorn their genitals varies from person to person. While the obvious reasoning may seem to be sexual pleasure because of the placement, that is often not the case. In fact, a male piercing may offer little to no sensual stimulation. Henry said he received no pleasure, and even without using a condom, his sexual partner could feel only some stimulation sometimes. The pleasure offered by female piercings varies. Nipple piercings tend to be stimulating, but this also fluctuates with each individual. Emily doesn\’t receive sexual arousal from her VCH, but does from her nipple rings. So, why do it?
Emily decided on a VCH because she thought it was pretty. She even picked out a garnet-stoned ring to adorn it. Tarbell said people get genital piercings for many different reasons, and while he couldn\’t answer to all of them, he believes it can be an enlightening, self-satisfying experience for people, perhaps indicating their taking control of their adulthood. He also said that the accompanying adrenaline rush could be incentive. Henry said he chose his pierced location merely as \”something different.\”
Some have sex immediately after receiving their piercing, like Jodi, who had it done a few days prior and had already tried it out. Robert, her boyfriend, did not plan on having sex immediately after his new penis piercings. Tarbell advises people to use their subjectivity and go ahead and have sex when they feel they are ready. He also warns, however, that to avoid infection, protection should be worn with all sexual activity until the piercing is fully healed – generally two to three months. This especially goes for mouth piercings and their utility with oral sex.
Even still, some will get such piercings for sexual reasons. Certified sexologist, sex therapist and retired MSU professor Andrew Barclay said in an email that, in his opinion, the sort of person (sexually speaking) who is more likely to get a genital piercing are the \”less physically sensitive people who need to have additional stimulation during sexual activity. The more physically sensitive a person is, the less additional stimulation they need.\” Some may use piercing to spice up their relationships. But other options exist if they didn\’t want to resort to the permanence of piercings. \”I would say that temporary studs [as an alternative to real piercings] don\’t work because part of the stimulation is in the piercing itself and the feeling of having been mutilated,\” he said. \”There are lots of ways to spice up sex like having sex where you can be discovered (on the coats at a party), playing fantasy games together, wearing special clothing or underwear, pretending to pick someone up at a bar, etc. I feel the \’mind-games\’ are better than actually physically altering your body, but that\’s just my bias.\”
A Day in the Life
\”I can see it when I pee,\” said Emily of her daily encounters with her VCH, which she has had since last August. While she said she needs to be cautious of it during sexual activity, so to be careful not to rip it out, she also mentioned that it doesn\’t bother her during the day. The same goes for her nipple rings, although if she\’s not wearing a bra and bumps into a doorway, the barbell can catch it.
Practicality can be a concern in the male\’s case as well. \”The first time I peed, I sprayed [through the pierced holes],\” said Henry. \”I had to squat.\” While he said he quickly learned to manage this, he also mentioned he waited about a month and a half before masturbating with his new piercing. What he didn\’t expect was the blood. \”You have to wear a condom or taped-on glove,\” he said of the two-week period he bled following his piercing. Now that it has healed, though, he said he doesn\’t even know his piercing is there during the day, and that it really doesn\’t even affect him during sex.
Just as Emily explained the need for caution during sex, Barclay mentioned a possible hazard when using sex toys with a piercing. \”Occasionally there can be bleeding from the site with over-stimulation from an over-vibrator or direct thrusting against the ring, etc.\” Carefulness and awareness can help prevent such an occurrence.
Life with erotic piercings is not only for the rebellious youth. While Splash of Color is located on Grand River directly across from the MSU campus, only a fair portion of the clientele is comprised of students. Tarbell said he sees a pretty even mix of professionals and students. The demographic he described included teachers, lawyers, professors and business women. Barclay commented that all of his clients with piercings are unattached relationship wise.
What the Doc Says
Peter Gulick, an infectious disease doctor and associate professor at MSU, said the two biggest concerns of genital piercing are the risk of infection and the sterility of the equipment and piercing environment. He has seen people with bacteria infections from not caring for the piercing properly, and in rare cases, people who have contracted Hepatitis C from the piercing studio. Gulick said the sort of jewelry used can also determine irritation as well, and that that is something not usually considered. According to Gulick, if an infection is bad enough, the pain could be permanent, though he\’s never heard of infertility resulting.
[splash]Gulick did caution that when it comes to female nipple piercing, \”if you did get an infection in glands there, where ducts are, and scarring, there might not be the ability to suppress milk,\” and the duct may close up. Also, if scar tissue is extensive, Gulick said a similar predicament may occur. This is especially a concern in black women, who have heavier scar tissue. He stressed that just the jewelry alone could cause such irritation. Even with all these cautions, Tarbell said he\’s never seen a woman unable to breastfeed, though recognizes the rare potential for difficulty. Rather, Tarbell said he has actually known women who kept their piercings open during child rearing by only removing the ring when they breastfeed.
Crucial to avoiding infection is a clean, safe piercing experience. To maintain their sterile environment, Splash of Color has rigorous standards they follow, including disposing of all needles after use. It is their policy, said Tarbell, to allow the client to watch them throw away the needle used. \”Clinical sterilization\” is how Tarbell labeled their procedure, which means that \”any reusable piece goes through an extensive process,\” including rinsing, disinfecting, ultrasonic cleansing, lubrication, and bioshielding packaging – all of which are performed right in their Grand River studio.
Where to Go
Not all counties regulate piercing studios, according to Ingham County Health Department Registered Sanitarian Fred Maurer, but Ingham County does. Essentially, the parlors are regulated for sanitation, but using one\’s own discrepancy is key to finding the best studio suited to one\’s interests because they aren\’t heavily and constantly watched. Unlike restaurants, piercing parlors are only inspected yearly, and anything can happen in 12 months. Fred Maurer recommends that the \”buyer beware,\” just as one would do when purchasing anything else – expect this purchase will be worn for the rest on your life – and evaluate the situation for oneself when choosing a parlor.
The Ingham County Health Department does get occasional complaints, which are checked out in person. Accordingly, if an individual has an unsatisfactory experience, a phone call should be placed to the health department of the area.
A Word of Caution
Everyone has his or her own two cents to offer on the subject of piercing, such as whether or not it\’s a good idea, or where a piercing should be located. Emily advises that if, like her, you want one, you get the piercing that you really want, and not just something everyone else likes. Gulick\’s concern is the associated risks, and recommends consideration of side effects and careful contemplation before commitment. Tarbell recommends researching what you\’re looking for, and recommended the websites bmezine.com and safepiercing.org, the latter of which is of the Association of Professional Piercers.
Whether or not you are personally interested in getting a genital piercing, educating oneself on the pros, cons, do and don\’ts can be done through personal research and at the websites suggested by Tarbell. If you\’re planning to advance a new relationship, this may be a good idea. You wouldn\’t want to find yourself clueless if you happen to catch a glimpse of something shiny during your special evening plans.

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