Breaking down the stigma surrounding genital piercings

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Graphic by Kash Patel

Piercings of any kind — with the exception of ear piercings perhaps — have historically gained a certain amount of stigma depending on their body part placement and style. 

There probably isn’t a more controversial piercing of choice, however, than the different variations you can get on male and female genitals. 

These can range from the Prince Albert, a piercing that goes through the underside of the head of a penis, to labia piercings: rings or tunnels that line the outer/inner vaginal lips, usually in pairs — and most people don’t realize the number of options that are available to bedazzle their intimate areas. 

As a typically taboo body alteration to discuss, genital piercings are slowly gaining relative popularity and acceptance. 

Whether it’s to increase personal body confidence about their private parts, impress a partner or make sexual intercourse more pleasurable — which some of these piercings have the ability to do, depending on the person — people are taking the plunge to get them done more often than you’d think. 

Daniel Thomas, a piercer at Thrive Studios in Cambridge and a member of the Association of Professional Piercers, has pierced in three countries around the world — and knows firsthand what it’s like to do these kinds of piercings professionally. 

“I do a fair bit of genital piercings,” Thomas said. 

As a statement of sexual expression and individuality, the perception around body jewelry is shifting.

“They’re pretty popular — they’re not like an ear-piercing-popular. I wouldn’t say that we’re a super busy studio that does them all the time, [but] we still do them multiple times a week.”

One of the most important things about genital piercing consideration is doing the right research into what it is you want and finding the most qualified professional to do it for you.  

“You really need to research your piercer. It’s something that generally only one or two piercers in each area do a lot of and then they’ll specialize in that sort of thing. I see a lot of really bad genital piercings that are done by people that are just trying to work it out. So go to a piercer that has a good reputation for doing genital piercings,” Thomas said.

In terms of whether or not genital piercings will increase sexual pleasure in the bedroom, that aspect comes down to the person and the location of the piercing. 

“[It] depends on which piercings you go for and how your anatomy is built. And if that’s what you’re going for, putting a ring in your dick if you’re a bad lay and then thinking that’s going to make you good at sex — it’s not magic,” Thomas said.

“You have to be good at it first before the ring’s going to do anything. One of the good things is a piercing where it kind of gives an ‘x marks the spot’ for the clit and makes it a little bit easier for men to find, or whoever’s looking for it.”

If you do decide to get a genital piercing done, the healing time varies significantly from piercing to piercing. Vaginal piercings, for instance, tend to have faster healer times because they’re in an area that cleans itself — which is why you shouldn’t use soap down there, ever.

“Depends on which one you go for. Some of them are really, really quick and easy, like maybe four to eight weeks; and then other ones are more towards the six to twelve-month mark, if it goes through a lot more tissue,” Thomas said. 

As a statement of sexual expression and individuality, the perception around body jewelry is shifting. 

With more people getting nipple piercings, the desire to move past the “norm” of socially acceptable piercings is being pushed.

The vulnerability involved with getting a genital piercing can be daunting, but with a wider variety of body piercings gaining acceptance and demand, the possibility of having them done safely and without judgement is becoming more possible. 

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