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Labia, Clitoris, and Other Female Genital Piercings

Are there any risks to genital piercing?

Any time you create an opening in the body there is a chance of infection. Going to a questionable piercing shop can put you at risk for tetanus, HIV, hepatitis B and C, and other sexually transmitted diseases (STIs). Sometimes, vaginal piercings can lead to bleeding, scarring, or an allergic reaction. Piercing behind the clitoris may interfere with blood flow.

Here are a few precautions to reduce risks:

  • Not all states have laws regulating piercings. It's important to make sure you choose a reputable shop. Look for someone who is a member of the Association of Professional Piercers (APP), which means that the person has at least one year of piercing experience, as well as training in anti-infection and first-aid techniques. The person who is doing the piercing should check your ID, clean the genital area thoroughly with antiseptic, wear gloves, and use a new sterilized needle.
  • Choose stainless steel, niobium, or titanium jewelry to prevent an infection or allergic reaction.
  • After you get pierced, follow all instructions for keeping the area clean. Wash the area regularly with a diluted saline solution and an antibacterial soap and water. Don't use alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Betadine, or ointment.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid too much friction in the pierced area.
  • Don't have sex for at least two weeks after getting pierced. When you do have sex, clean the pierced area with saline solution or clean water afterward.
  • Avoid pools and hot tubs until the area has healed.
  • Sometimes, jewelry can poke a hole in a condom or dislodge a diaphragm. So it's a good idea to use extra protection (a backup method or extra condom) when having sex.

It's normal to have some discharge after you get a piercing. But if that discharge is unusually colored (green) or foul smelling, you may have an infection. Leave jewelry in place, but clean the area with antibacterial soap and warm compresses. Ask your doctor if you need an antibiotic to help the infection clear up more quickly.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on July 25, 2012

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