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Sexual Health Center

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Genital Piercings

Are There Risks Associated With Genital Piercings?

The most common complications associated with genital piercing include:

There is also a potential risk of hepatitis B and C as well as HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and other infectious diseases. These risks can be minimized with the use of new, sterile needles.

Particularly with certain male piercings there is a risk of narrowing of the urethra as result of scar tissue. Impotence is also a potential risk if the needle mistakenly pierces erectile tissue.

You can reduce the risk of infection and allergic reaction by using proper jewelry made out of such metals as surgical stainless steel or titanium. Genital piercings need to cleaned daily with diluted saline solution and soap and water, as well as after sexual activity.

People with chronic medical conditions should talk to their doctor about piercing beforehand.

What Are Some Common Types of Genital Piercing?

One of the most common types of female genital piercing is known as the vertical clitoral hood or VCH. This is a vertical piercing that's done through the skin that lies above the glans -- the rounded head -- of the clitoris. This results in direct stimulation of the clitoris during sexual intercourse. The VCH is popular partly because the direction of the piercing conforms to the natural shape of the woman's body. This kind of piercing typically takes four to six weeks to heal.

The clitoris itself is seldom pierced directly. In most women, the clitoris is not large enough to support the jewelry. Also, there is a very high risk of causing serious nerve damage if the clitoris is pierced.

Other common female piercings include:

  • Horizontal clitoral hood or HCH. This is basically the same as a VCH, only the piercing goes in a horizontal direction in the skin above the clitoris.
  • Triangle. This piercing is the same as the HCH only it's below the clitoris rather than above it. It also provides direct stimulation to the clitoris but on the underside.
  • Labia piercings. Either the inner or the outer labia -- the lips of the vagina -- can be pierced. Often with labia piercings, there are multiple piercings. That's because the thickness of the tissue can support multiple pieces of jewelry.

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