Answers to Embarrassing Questions about Tattoos and Piercings

A young lady with facial piercings.
Uwe Krejci / Getty Images

There are some questions about getting a tattoo or piercing that are difficult, even embarrassing, to ask. But that doesn't mean they're not valid and important questions to ask. Here the questions have been asked for you, and the answers are provided.

I want to get a tattoo on my hip, but does that mean I will have to go bottomless? How can I get this tattoo and keep my modesty?
You will want to make it easy for your artist to get to the area of the tattoo, but never do anything that makes you uncomfortable. If your artist makes you feel uncomfortable, walk out.

That being said, I think the best thing for you to wear in this case would be a skirt or dress. Not tight, and not fancy though. You will need to be able to pull it up enough, and you don't want to get ink on a nice dress. If you can't stand the thought of wearing a skirt or dress, I would go with a pair of shorts that are really loose in the leg and can be pulled up enough.

Pulling your trousers down or taking them off would be the last option if you are concerned about showing too much. I think the other 2 ways make more sense. You can also bring along a towel or blanket to cover up your lower legs if you're a little shy - just tell them you're cold.

I want to get a PA (Prince Albert) piercing, but I've heard that after you get it done, you have to sit down to urinate. Is this true?
Sometimes this is the case, especially during the initial healing period of the piercing. However, that doesn't mean it's a permanent situation. Many men with PA piercings have been able to "train" themselves to control their urine flow so that they can continue to stand. It may take a little practice, but it's all mind over matter. If it's important for you to stand, you'll be able to find a way to teach yourself to do it.

I am wanting to get a tattoo in my pubic area, but I'm concerned about pubic hair. Do I need to shave before my appointment? What about waxing?
We have had several discussions about this on the message board, so you might like to look there and read some of them. You can find the link to the forum at the forum login page, and you can just log in as a guest to read the messages there.

But other than that, don't worry about shaving beforehand unless you want to. That is usually the job of the artist - and even if you do shave beforehand, they will probably do it when you get there any way to make sure it is perfectly smooth before they start. Since pubic hair is a little difficult to shave, we're sure they would appreciate you at least giving them a head start by shaving some before arriving if you have a lot to remove.

After getting the tattoo, you won't be able to shave for at least a couple weeks, and this may be uncomfortable but won't hurt your tattoo. You don't want to shave until there is no risk of hurting the tattoo - you can find this information in the article, When is it safe to shave again?

I want to get my nose pierced, but I have allergies and get colds in the winter. How do you blow your nose?
Once a nose (nostril or septum) piercing is healed, blowing your nose is as simple as if it weren't pierced. The jewelry really doesn't get in the way, and you learn to work around it if it does. But the first few weeks, during the healing process, it will be difficult to relieve your sinuses. It is best to keep this in mind when making an appointment to get your nose pierced - the peak of allergy season or flu season is not a good time to do this.

Getting the piercing can even lower your immune system and make you more prone to illness. Take vitamins to keep your immune system healthy and keep up with your allergy medication to avoid excessive mucus in the sinus cavities. If you must blow, do so carefully and thoroughly clean your piercing afterward.

I am thinking about getting a tattoo on my penis. Do I have to be erect for them to do this?
My friend (tattoo artist and piercer) Gerry answers this one with, "[It] does not have to be hard (erect). However, it does need to be stretched taut; the method is left to the imagination." So, what he means is that the artist, who will no doubt (and had better be) experienced in this kind of tattoo will do whatever is necessary to keep the skin tight for a good, clean tattoo. It is not necessary for you to do, or worry about, anything.

If I get my penis tattooed or pierced, I'm afraid I might get aroused when the artist touches me. How can I prevent this, or what should I do if it happens?

Gerry also answers this question by saying, "If a guy is turned on, it's a human reaction. If the piercer is a [female] just smile; if a man, (depending on sexual preference) smile or apologize. Most professional artists understand these things and don't take them personally." In other words, don't sweat it!

Will weight gain or loss affect my tattoo?
Any tattoo can be affected by changes in size of the body, but the good news is that it's usually not that noticeable. Tattoos can be very forgiving, and if the weight gain or loss occurs slowly enough, this gives your tattoo time to "adjust". Imagine a balloon with a logo on it - I'm sure you've seen them. The logo appears essentially the same when the balloon is full as it is when it's deflated, with maybe a slight difference in depth of color. Your skin will usually not undergo as much size change as a balloon, so the changes in your tattoo should be even less visible. Your skin is very elastic and stretches and contracts without much incidence, in most cases. Stomach tattoos and pregnancy are possibly one of the exceptions, which will be discussed next.

How Will Pregnancy Affect a Stomach Tattoo?
This is one area that can be a little less forgiving than the rest of your body. Pregnancy is quick weight gain and a lot of stretching over a short period of time. Your tattoo may not be able to adjust as well to these changes, and there could be some damage. Also, keep in mind that in the event a C-section should become necessary when giving birth, your tattoo could undergo even more abuse. If you think you may have children in the future, it might be wise to wait on that tummy tattoo. The other thing that can cause problems in this area is stretch marks, which is the next topic.

Can Stretch Marks Damage My Tattoo?
Unfortunately, yes they can. Which is why it's important to think about where you are placing your tattoos if you might get pregnant or have weight fluctuation difficulty. Areas that are most prone to stretch marks are the lower back, underarms and breasts, stomach, and abdomen.

Can a Tattoo Damaged by Stretch Marks be Fixed?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. If you have a damaged tattoo, you'll have to let your artist take a look at it and determine whether or not it can be salvaged, fixed or covered up.

Can Stretch Marks be Tattooed Over?
How deep and what color are the stretch marks? Light stretch marks that are almost the same shade as your skin will be easy to cover with a tattoo. Pinkish stretch marks that are not deep aren't too bad to deal with. Deep or darkly colored red or purple stretch marks, however, present more of a challenge. The best thing for you to do is to go see your tattoo artist and let him/her look at your stretch marks and make an evaluation. Even if your stretch marks are dark or deep, the artist may have some ideas as to how to work around them or even incorporate them into a cool design.

I've heard genital piercings can make you lose sexual feeling. Is this true?
If it was true, genital piercings certainly wouldn't be very popular! Honestly, people (especially women) get genital piercings to increase their sexual arousal, not decrease it. Sometimes the piercing doesn't always "perform" as expected, but most of them run no risk of making you lose your ability to be sexually stimulated. However, a piercing that actually goes through the clitoris does run a small risk of this happening, since the clitoris is the central nerve system of sexual feeling. Clitoral piercings done by a skilled professional have very little risk of this happening.

Is it possible to have a genital piercing if you suffer from genital warts or herpes? 
When it comes to medical conditions, it's really best to consult your doctor before getting a tattoo or piercing. Some people are reluctant to do this because their physician is against tattoos or piercings, but remember that they are paid to give professional advice, not their personal opinions. It's best to be informed first before putting yourself at some kind of unnecessary risk.

How does acne affect a tattoo? More specifically, if you get a zit under your tattoo will it screw things up?
Once a tattoo is healed, a blemish normally won't cause any damage unless it is picked and poked at enough to leave a scar. Usually, the pimple will just come and go without any repercussions to your tattoo. However, it is best to have clear skin when you get a tattoo - tattooing over acne isn't going to give your tattoo the best start. During the healing process, it's unlikely you would get any pimples on the new tattoo, but if you do it's vital that you leave it alone. If you have an area of your body where you are frequently prone to severe acne, it may be best not to get a tattoo there.

My boyfriend is getting his penis skin pierced, and he is expecting me to give him head. Is the piercing going to like rip my lip or anything? What should I watch out for? 
First of all, no one can make you do anything you don't want to do. If he is "expecting" this of you and you don't want to do it, tell him to go take a flying leap.

That being said, if you want to do it, it shouldn't be a problem as long as the jewelry is secure. If he's wearing a captive bead ring, make sure the bead doesn't pop out of place. If he's wearing a barbell, make sure the end balls are securely screwed on so they don't come off. The jewelry is smooth and won't catch on your lip or tongue unless they are also pierced - in which case, it may take a little practice to make sure you don't get tangled up. Just go slow, be careful and only do what you are completely comfortable with.

I'd really like to get a (clitoris) hood piercing, but I'm so shy. I hate going to my Gyno; how can I handle this?
Getting a piercing you want is nothing like getting an exam you don't want. There are no stirrups and no speculums. You can bring a friend if that makes you more comfortable. Your piercer is a professional, just like your doctor. The experience may not be every day for you, but it is for them. The procedure is over in seconds, and you leave with a great new piercing. The end justifies the means.

I Have Low Sex Drive Problems. Will a Genital Piercing Make Me More Apt to Want Sex?
Unfortunately, no. Once stimulated, a genital piercing can enhance the sexual experience and help you feel more during sex, but it won't arouse you on its own. Low sex drives can be part of a mental or physical problem and should be discussed with your doctor.

Is it true that a tongue piercing can enhance oral sex?
This really depends on both individuals - the one giving (with the tongue ring) and the one receiving. If the one with the tongue ring is not skilled in cunnilingus or fellatio, the receiver may not get any benefit from the tongue ring. If the receiver is not very sensitive to oral stimulation, a tongue ring may not make that much difference. Women tend to gain the most benefit from a pierced partner, because the ball of the ring comes in direct contact with the clitoris. Men who are uncircumcised also (sometimes) gain more benefit because the ball can move the extra skin and serve as a massaging action against the penis.

I want to get a tattoo, but I am currently pregnant. Can I still get the tattoo?
For the safety of yourself and your unborn child, you should not get a tattoo when you're pregnant. Most tattoo shops won't do it, anyway, for safety reasons. Everything you take into your body can affect the baby - why risk it? Getting a tattoo can also lower your immunity to other illnesses while your body heals the tattoo, making you and your child susceptible. In a worst-case scenario, if the tattoo became infected, you could pass that infection along to the baby. It's just not worth the risk, and this likewise applies to piercings.

Can I get a tattoo (or piercing) if I'm breastfeeding?
Again, just like when you're pregnant, what goes into your body will affect what eventually goes into the baby. The general rule is no tattoos or piercings until at least 6 weeks after the baby has been weaned. This ensures that your body is back to "normal" and that the child is not dependant on your milk. Then it should be safe for you to get a tattoo or piercing.

I heard that if you do cocaine with a nose piercing there is a greater risk of your cartilage collapsing than with not having one. Is this true? 
Drugs that are inhaled through the nose like cocaine destroy the cartilage inside. Although I've never seen a clinical study on the effects of piercings and drug users, it is only logical to assume that a hole in the cartilage could weaken it and increase the speed of decay.

But if you're sniffing coke, you really ought to be more concerned about your health than whether a piercing is going to collapse your cartilage. Please get help.

Can I get a tattoo if I'm on my period?
A tattoo will not affect your period, and being on your period will not affect your tattoo. The only thing you might want to consider is your pain tolerance - if you're already cramping and uncomfortable, you might not want to add the discomfort of a tattoo to that. But there is no reason you can't get a tattoo when you're on your period.

I just got a nose ring about a month ago and there's an embarrassing little bump above my ring. I clean it 2-3 times a day so something like this wouldn't happen. Is this normal or is it infected and how do I get rid of this? 
Many people have this problem with piercings in all different locations - I had a terrible one on my tragus. Contrary to what most people say, this is NOT a keloid. Keloids are hard scar tissue that usually have to be surgically removed. However, this bump we sometimes get is usually full of blood, pus, and other fun things. Fortunately, the treatment is simple - sea salt soaks 3 times a day should get rid if it in just a few days time. For instructions on how to do a sea salt soak, go to the piercing aftercare page.

I have some lower back fuzz...obviously I would shave it when getting a tattoo there, but is it true that I "should" keep shaving the area after getting the tattoo to keep the ink from fading, breaking up and looking bad? 
Hair growth does not hurt a tattoo in any way. Men certainly don't shave their legs and arms after getting a tattoo, and many of them