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Labia, Clitoris, and Other Female Genital Piercings

Pierced ears have long been a fashion accessory. By some estimates, more than 85% of women have pierced ears. For thousands of years, cultures around the world have also pierced other body parts. The practice, though, has only caught on in Western society over the last few decades.

Today, it's common for people to pierce their tongue, lips, nose, eyebrows, and even that most sensitive of areas: the genitals. It's not just rock musicians and street artists who are getting genital piercings. A lot of professional women are hiding jewelry beneath their business suits.

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Why do people get their genitals pierced?

Most people get pierced to show off their jewelry. But when it comes to the genitals, not too many people are going to be looking. One of the main reasons women give for vaginal piercing is sexual enhancement. Some women who've been pierced "down there" say it helped them reach their first orgasm. Other women say their vaginal piercing makes them feel adventurous, exciting, or naughty.

Are there different types of vaginal piercing?

The vagina can be pierced in one of these areas:

  • Clitoris/clitoris hood. This is the most popular type of vaginal piercing. It's thought to stimulate the sensitive clitoral tissue during sex. Piercing the hood is preferable to piercing the clitoris itself. The clitoris is very sensitive and piercing it can cause pain and nerve damage.
  • Outer or inner labia. The tissue of the labia is thick enough to accommodate more than one piece of jewelry or heavier jewelry.
  • Princess Albertina. The female counterpart to the Prince Albert piercing in males is rarely done. That's because it's very difficult to perform. The piercing goes through the urethra and the top of the vagina.

Even if you're brave enough to get a vaginal piercing, you may not have the right anatomy for it. Many women don't have a clitoris large enough to accommodate a piercing. You also need to have enough skin in the inner and outer labia if you want to pierce in those areas.

How is vaginal piercing done?

First the skin around the area is cleaned with an antiseptic. This is very important because you can end up with a serious infection if the area isn't thoroughly cleaned. Then a 12- to 16-gauge hollow needle with a piece of jewelry attached -- usually a barbell or captive bead -- is passed through the skin.

The biggest question with genital piercings is, "Do they hurt?" It would seem likely that if you pierce some of the most sensitive tissue in your body, the pain would be excruciating. Yet the procedure is very quick, and some people who perform -- and get -- genital piercings say it doesn't hurt any more than piercing other parts of the body.

How quickly vaginal piercings heal depends on the location of the piercing. A labial piercing takes between one to four months to heal. The clitoris can heal in one to two months.

WebMD Medical Reference

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