For you romantics out there, piercing may conjure up an image
of Cupid's golden arrow passing through your heart. But what
about your penis, labia, nipple, nose or tongue? A piercing,
like an earring, is a decorative ring or bar that is placed
through a flap of your skin or, in the case of your tongue, a
muscle. It's a popular procedure among gay and straight people
get pierced in the first place? "It's an expression of
oneself, a way to be different," says piercer David
McCammon of San Francisco's Gotham Body Piercing. He added
that piercing certain body parts "can heighten sexual
The procedure itself is simple. A needle punctures your skin
or tongue, then a bar or ring is inserted through the opening.
Don't remove your piercing during the healing process, or the
hole will close up! When done correctly, anesthesia is not
you try it on your own, you increase your chances for both
infection and an improperly placed piercing. Go to a
professional who can help you choose appropriately sized
jewelry and give you detailed instructions on how to care for
does it cost?
Rates do vary, but generally speaking, expect to pay around
thirty dollars for a piercing above the waist, and around
fifty dollars for one below the waist. The jewelry costs extra
and can range from ten dollars to hundreds, depending on your
A piercing is more than poke and play-it can bleed, tear,
become infected, and it may not close up if you change your
mind. The healing process can take from 6 weeks to 5 months or
more, during which time you'll need to diligently cleanse and
care for your new toy. If you're not sure you're ready for the
responsibility, you might want to give it more thought before
be surprised if everyone doesn't love your new piercing. Sure,
the decision to get one is yours, but if you're dating
someone, you might want to talk with him or her beforehand. If
the reaction you get is a wide-eyed, "Ick," try
explaining your reasons for wanting a piercing in the first
a penis bar or ring is your thing, be sure that the jewelry
you choose is properly sized. If it's too small, it may keep
you from having a comfortable erection. If it's too big, it
may slide around too much when you're soft and irritate your
penis. Keep in mind that you can pierce your foreskin,
scrotum, the skin on your shaft, and even the head of your
penis, but don't pierce straight through the shaft! This could
impale a blood vessel and cause serious bleeding, or damage
your erectile tissue.
Albert may sound like an invitation to a United Nations
party, but in reality these are three piercings that go right
through the head of your penis. An apadravya is a rod passed
through your urethra
vertically, an ampallang is a rod that is passed through
horizontally but misses your urethra, and a Prince Albert is a
ring passed through the opening of your penis (the urethra)
and out through the bottom of the shaft. Urinary tract
infections can occur with these types of piercings, so see
your doctor if you have a burning sensation or pass blood when
you urinate. And don't forget, an apadravya and a Prince
Albert go smack through your urine flow, so you're likely to
spray. The good news is that your urine, which is usually
sterile, will cleanse the wound and help it heal faster.
with a penis ring, using
a condom is very important. You may need to use a larger
condom to accommodate your jewelry, and be sure to avoid
rubbers that are sheer -- they might tear. Remember guys, your
love ring can also injure your partner's teeth or the inside
of his or her anus and mouth, so use caution and be gentle.
a labial ring is your thing, you're in luck! There are several
places in your vaginal area that can be pierced including the
hood of your clitoris, your lower vagina and your inner and
outer labia. For the record, piercing the clitoris itself is a
tricky procedure because the area is so sensitive. If you must
have it done, choose someone experienced. And always be sure
to have your professional piercer correctly size the jewelry
The main side effect of piercing is infection. Bleeding is
rare and usually stops if you apply a little pressure to the
wound. If you have an allergic reaction to the jewelry, you'll
usually get a rash. Titanium, platinum, gold and
surgical-grade steel are usually non-reactive, so stick with
these types of rings or bars. Beware of silver; it's very
reactive and can give you trouble!
You should make sure your piercer uses clean and sterilized
equipment because it's possible to contract HIV
B and C, among other blood borne diseases, from a piercing
B can survive outside the body for days, so your chances
of contracting it from a contaminated needle is greater than
your risk of HIV, which dies quickly once outside the body.
a general rule, an improperly placed piercing is more likely
to cause infection than a properly placed one. For this
reason, leave the procedure up to a professional. If you do
get an infection, don't ignore it. An abscess could
develop-and your doctor might need to drain the infected area
you have diabetes,
you're at a higher risk for infection in general. Before
getting pierced, consult your doctor. If you are prone to
forming keloids (thick scars), you may want to avoid piercing
altogether. Otherwise, be prepared for scars to be part of the
aesthetic. Having HIV is not a reason to avoid piercing. If
you are healthy and want one, go for it.
you're already pierced, make sure you remove all your décor
before undergoing surgery -- and not because of homophobia.
Depending on the operation, your jewelry can react with the
operating equipment and cause a serious burn. Talk about a
is the healing process?
Be patient. The healing process can take from 4 to 6 weeks for
a tongue and 5 months or longer for a nipple. As your skin
heals, expect yellow fluid to drain and crust on your ring or
bar. This is normal. Your chance of infection is greatest
right after the procedure, so keep the area clean by washing
twice a day with antibacterial soap until the oozing subsides.
Keep in mind, this oozing is a body fluid and can transmit
diseases, so protect it with a condom or dental dam during sex.
Don't remove your jewelry, or the hole may close! Finally,
don't be rough until the piercing has healed completely
because you might cause it to bleed or tear.
you reverse it?
If you change your mind about your piercing, simply remove the
jewelry and the hole may close. (Keep in mind that some holes
don't ever close, which is particularly true with penile
piercings). If your piercing isn't freshly done, you may end
up with a small scar. Don't forget to keep the area clean so
it doesn't get infected.