Labia, Clitoris, and Other Vaginal Piercings

Medically Reviewed by Zilpah Sheikh, MD on April 01, 2024
7 min read

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

Today, it's not unusual for people to pierce their tongue, lips, nose, eyebrows, nipples, and even the most sensitive of areas: the genitals. For those with female anatomy, this can take the form of clitoris, labia, or vaginal piercing.

Most people get piercings to show off their jewelry or because they simply like the way it looks. But when it comes to pierced female genitals, there can also be other reasons. One of the main reasons people go for vaginal piercing is sexual enhancement. Some who've been pierced "down there" say it helped them reach their first orgasm. Others say their vaginal piercing makes them feel adventurous, exciting, or naughty.

Some people who've been victims of trauma, such as sexual abuse or assault, get piercings as a way to symbolically reclaim control over their bodies.

Here are some of the types of piercings that can be done on the vaginal area:

Vertical clitoral hood (VCH) piercing. The most popular type of vaginal piercing, clitoral hood piercing is thought to stimulate the sensitive clitoral tissue during sex .Piercing the hood (the fold of skin that covers the clitoris) is much less risky than an actual clitoris piercing, which could lead to nerve damage. A VCH piercing passes vertically through the clitoral hood above the clitoris.

Horizontal clitoris hood (HCH) piercing. This piercing is placed horizontally across the clitoral hood. It may not be right for you if you have a smaller clitoris.

Princess Diana piercing. This isa type ofVCH piercing that's done on one or both sides of the clitoral hood instead of in the middle. Some people get one piercing in the middle of the hood along with one on each side. You might also hear this called a Duke piercing.

Triangle piercing. It's similar to the HCH but is done at the base of the clitoral hood, under the clitoris. It enhances sexual sensation but requires the right anatomy and a very experienced body piercer.

Outer labia piercing. The tissue of the labia (vaginal lips) is thick enough to accommodate more than one piece of jewelry or heavier jewelry. Outer labia piercings are done on the outside set of labia. They can be placed horizontally or vertically.

Inner labia piercing. You can get one or more piercingsin various locations along the inner lips of the vagina. Placing it near the clitoris may boost sexual sensations.

Christina piercing. This ornamental piercing is done in the area where the outer labia meet (below the pubic mound).

Fourchette piercing. This piercing is done in the tissue between the lower opening of the vagina and the anus. It may cause discomfort during penetrative sex since the jewelry can get pulled into the vagina.

Princess Albertina piercing. The female counterpart to the "Prince Albert" piercing in males is rarely done because it's very difficult to perform. The piercing goes through the urethra (the opening where pee comes out) and the top of the vagina. (The Prince Albert piercing goes through the urethra and comes out on the underside of the penis.)

Keep in mind that not everyone has the right anatomy for vaginal piercings. Many people don't have a clitoris large enough to accommodate a clitoral hood piercing. And you need to have enough skin in the inner and outer labia if you want to pierce in those areas.

First, the skin around the area is cleaned with an antiseptic. This is 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 is passed through the skin. Your piercer then inserts a piece of jewelry. For certain piercings, they might use clamps to hold the labia in place while they do the piercing.

The biggest question with genital piercings is "Do they hurt?" That really depends on your pain tolerance level. You might think that if you pierce some of the most sensitive tissues in your body, the pain would be very intense. 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.



Any time you create an opening in the body, there's a chance of infection. Going to a questionable piercing shop can put you at risk for blood-borne infections such as tetanus, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.

Sometimes, vaginal piercings can lead to:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Scar tissue (keloids)
  • Skin infections
  • An allergic reaction to metal in the jewelry
  • Blood flow problems, if you have a triangle piercing
  • Tearing at the piercing site
  • Unwanted pregnancy or exposure to STDs if you wear jewelry that can snag a condom

To reduce your risks:

  • Do your research and choose a reputable shop. Not all states have laws regulating piercings.
  • Look for a body piercer who is a member of the Association of Professional Piercers (APP), which means they have at least one year of piercing experience, as well as training in anti-infection and first-aid techniques. Ideally, they'll specialize in genital piercing. The piercer 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.

The type of jewelry used will depend on the type of piercing and your anatomy. An experienced body piercer should be able to recommend which sizes and shapes are appropriate. You'll usually start off with a thicker piece of jewelry, to allow for shrinkage as your piercing heals.

The three main types of jewelry for genital piercing are:

Barbell. This is a straight bar with a ball on each end.

Curved barbell. It's similar to the barbell, but the body is curved. When it's curved into an open circle, that's called a circular bar.

Captive ring. This is a hoop with a ball in the middle. Fixed bead rings are similar, but the bead is attached to one side of the ring.

For labia piercings, you may choose to add bells or charms to the jewelry after you're healed.

It may take a few weeks to a few months for your vaginal piercing to completely heal, depending on what type you got. To encourage healing and reduce your risk of complications, it's important to care for your piercing while it heals:

  • Follow your body piercer's instructions for keeping the area clean. Wash it daily for the first couple of weeks with a diluted saline solution and soap and water, and dry it with a paper towel. Avoid antibacterial soaps, which can kill beneficial bacteria. Don't use alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, Betadine, or ointment.
  • Always wash your hands with soap before touching the area.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing to avoid too much friction in the pierced area.
  • Don't touch the piercing or move the jewelry unless you're cleaning the area.
  • Don't have sex, including oral sex, for at least 2 weeks after getting pierced. Your doctor or body piercer may recommend a longer period. When you do have sex, clean the pierced area with saline solution or clean water afterward.
  • Avoid pools, hot tubs, lakes, and oceans for at least 2 weeks.
  • Because jewelry could poke a hole in a condom or dislodge a diaphragm, always use a second form of birth control if you have a piercing. Remember that condoms are the only method of birth control that protects against STDs.

It's normal to have some redness, tenderness, swelling, and a little clear 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 clear up the infection.

Vaginal piercing can take the form of clitoris, labia, or vulva piercing. You may get such a piercing for aesthetic reasons, to enhance sexual sensation, or to symbolically reclaim your body after sexual abuse or assault. Choose a reputable body piercer and take proper care of your piercing to encourage healing and prevent complications.

How much time does it take for a vagina piercing to heal?

How quickly you can expect a vaginal piercing to heal depends on its location:

  • A clitoral hood piercing or Princess Albertina piercing can heal in 1-2 months.
  • A labial piercing may take 1-4 months to heal. 
  • A fourchette piercing may take 6-8 weeks or longer.
  • A triangle piercing may take 3-4 months or longer.
  • A Christina piercing may take 6-9 months or longer.

What is the most painful genital piercing?

Because of the many nerve endings there, piercing of the clitoris itself can be very painful.

What is the most uncommon genital piercing?

While clitoral hood piercings are the most common type of vaginal piercing, it's fairly rare to have an actual clitoris piercing. Not only is it painful, but it also carries a risk of permanent nerve damage.

How long do I have to wait to have sex after a vaginal piercing?

This may vary depending on what type of piercing you have and how well you heal, but experts recommend waiting at least 2 weeks.