Genital Piercings Questions Answered by Elayne Angel

A Master Piercer Gives Advice on PCH and Other Genital Piercings

Elayne Angel
Image Courtesy Elayne Angel. Image Courtesy Elayne Angel

If you have questions about genital piercings there is no one better to ask than APP President and author of "The Piercing Bible," Elayne Angel. With over three decades of experience and 40,000 performed piercings under her belt, Elayne knows the pleasure and pain of body modification and opens up about the world of intimate piercings.

VCH and Intimate Piercings for Women

Clit piercing gets intense interest. Are people just looking for photos, or is there a genuine interest in this form of body piercing?

Elayne: Those who contact me do have a sincere interest in genital piercing. Unfortunately, many I hear from are adults who have received botched genital piercings. I devote a lot of time to troubleshooting and offering advice on this particular issue.

One woman went into a tattoo/piercing studio to get a hood piercing. She came out with her hood and her clitoral glans pierced together! This was not the first time I’ve seen this very serious mistake. There are many piercers out there who are doing genital piercings without any specific training, which is really quite terrible.

Genital piercing is extremely popular. In fact, a lot of my clients are mature women (mothers and grandmothers) who don’t have any other piercings or body art. I think there’s nothing wrong with searching for photos and videos, just so long as it is between consenting adults. And eventually, they may decide they want to try it personally.

Do certain types of body jewelry provide more pleasure in an intimate piercing? If so which types and how?

Elayne: Yes, in addition to proper placement, which is crucial, body jewelry style and size can definitely have an impact on stimulation and enjoyment. The best jewelry depends on multiple factors including the individual piercing and anatomy, as well as one’s erotic predilections.

Some piercings are intended for enhancing sensation for the wearer, whereas others are for a partner’s pleasure. Some examples:

The Vertical Clitoral Hood (VCH) piercing is the most popular one for women, and it can feel different with changes in jewelry. I usually use a curved bar initially, but once healing is complete, the wearer may want to experiment with different lengths of bars and sizes of balls, or various sizes and shapes of rings. The J-curve style bar can increase stimulation, especially for a woman who has a recessed clitoris.

Personal preferences vary, as with all matters of sexual expression so I cannot tell who might prefer the short-bar-with-the-small-bead-under-your-hood fit, or the long-bar-that-hangs-down fit, or the big-ball-against-your-clitoris fit, etc. The good news is that the research is fun.

Which form of intimate piercing is said to provide the most sexual enhancement for women?

Elayne: As I mentioned, the VCH is very popular. It is placed in the same direction that women’s genitals are formed, so the jewelry rests comfortably between the legs and is not subject to stress or irritation. Approximately 90 percent of women are built with a pierceable fold of hood tissue above the clitoris.
 This hood is normally configured like a tiny one-ended tunnel, and the VCH pierces through just the thin membrane of skin above your clitoris, not through the clitoris itself.

Most of the jewelry rests under the hood. When the piercing is properly placed, the clitoris receives direct action from contact with the jewelry during sex.

The triangle is also popular, though fewer women are anatomically suited to it. This piercing is horizontal, and it stimulates by being located right behind the clitoral shaft (but should go through only hood tissue). Many piercers have no idea where to put this piercing and it can be very dangerous if improperly placed.

Lots of women ask whether a VCH or a triangle is the most stimulating piercing, but the answer is that they are completely different. Wearing both a VCH and a triangle creates a titillating sandwich: the sensitive clitoris is surrounded by jewelry, front and back.

Male Genital Piercings

Elayne: Men have more external genitalia, so they have even more options than women do.

Popular placements include the Prince Albert (PA), frenum, ampallang, apadravya, guiche, and pubic, among others. There’s no single most popular male piercing in my practice, though I think the PA is one of the most common overall. The different piercings vary quite a bit in intensity and healing time and there are so many factors to consider, depending on what the man (or his partner) is seeking.

For a couple that has a snug fit already, adding a genital piercing such as an ampallang (horizontally through the glans of the penis) may not be helpful because it increases width at the head. Yet, for a couple that has more ease between them, the added jewelry could be just the thing to make their fit more compatible, resulting in greater satisfaction for both parties.

If a man has a pubic piercing, his female partner might like him to wear a textured or large bead on a captive ring for clitoral stimulation. A man with a sensitive penis might feel his partner’s inner or outer labia piercings during intercourse, and the stimulation could change depending on the jewelry size and/or style. The options and possibilities are vast.

Are summer activities such as swimming prohibited with a new body piercing?

Elayne: It depends on the cleanliness of the body of water. In general, most pools, lakes, jacuzzis, etc. do tend to harbor a lot of microbes, which makes swimming with an open wound of any type — including a piercing — potentially dangerous. I just read an article about the horrible water quality at many US beaches: it contains dangerous levels of bacteria-laden human and animal waste. I don’t think I’d go in the ocean now even without a healed piercing!

Timing is important when it comes to getting a piercing, so these things should be factored in when making decisions on what to get pierced, and when.

Are lower-grade body jewelry materials inferior? What’s your favorite choice?

Elayne: Yes! But with body jewelry, it's not just an issue of the material, but also of the quality of the manufacturing and finishing.

So my preferences aren’t just about the grade of the metal but also who makes the jewelry. For steel or titanium, I’m a fan of Industrial Strength Body Jewelry, Body Circle Designs, Anatometal, SM316, and NeoMetal.

I’m equally happy to use steel or titanium of the following grades, which meet the standard set by the Association of Professional Piercers:

  • Surgical Steel that is ASTM F-138 compliant or ISO 5832-1 compliant; ISO 10993-(6,10, or 11) compliant or EEC Nickel Directive compliant
  • Titanium (Ti6Al4V ELI) that is implant certified that is ASTM F-136 compliant or ISO 5832-3 compliant, or commercially pure titanium that is ASTM F-67 compliant.

From The Piercing Bible:

The steel and titanium grades listed above are highly biocompatible and very unlikely to cause irritation to a piercing and the surrounding skin. However, making jewelry with them presents challenges because the usual techniques and tools for working gold and silver cannot be used to manufacture steel or titanium body jewelry. These harder metals have higher melting points, and they must be machined with high-tech equipment rather than crafted by a jeweler’s hand. They also require a great deal of polishing to be made smooth enough to wear in the body.

The implant-designation metals are used in medical applications such as bone pins and screws and joint replacements. They have been designed and tested for safe long-term wear in the body. Cheaper jewelry is frequently described as “implant grade,” but this is often a false claim. You can’t tell by looking, so how can you be sure?

Mill certificates, mill test certificates, or simply mill certs are documents that provide evidence of a specific grade of metal (with an ASTM or ISO code designation). By law, manufacturers of steel and titanium body jewelry must provide these to their customers (for example, your piercer) upon request. Ask your piercer/jeweler about her metals and if she has copies of mill certs to demonstrate the grades). You don’t need to understand exactly what the numbers mean, but mill certs should warrant that the steel or titanium is one of those in the metals list.

It is not possible to know whether the piece of jewelry you’re buying is from the batch indicated on the paper, but the presence of a certificate showing a recent date and the appropriate material means you have at least a chance of getting the right metal.

Since you cannot be certain of the origin of any individual piece of jewelry, the best thing to do is shop with a reputable company and follow the guidelines presented in “What to Look for in Quality Body Jewelry,” page 78.

Any common genital piercing myths you want to dispel?

Elayne: Contrary to what the uninitiated usually think, intimate piercings are not especially painful—at least when they’re done by an expert.

Many of my clients find that genital piercing is no more painful than other body or even ear piercings. Exceptions include ampallangs, apadravyas, dydoes, and the serious (though rare) clitoris piercing. These are more intense spots, but getting them pierced can also be very rewarding.

Another common misconception is that you can’t engage in sexual activity while they’re healing. You can—but you need to be hygienic about it, and gentle. If you’re doing anything that makes a healing piercing feel sore, you need to modify or stop. Safer sex using barrier protection must be practiced to avoid sharing bodily fluids throughout healing. Yes, even if you and your partner are monogamous and healthy.

Should you tell a new partner before they see your piercing to warn them or go for the shock value? Thoughts?

Elayne I think disclosure is appropriate, though context is relevant. Because I’m obviously heavily pierced and tattooed, it might be reasonably assumed there will be jewelry in lots of places. However, if someone’s interest in piercing is not otherwise evident, it is probably a good idea to talk about your genital piercing(s) or at least provide a hint before your clothes come off.

There’s a great deal more information in my book, The Piercing Bible, and a thorough introduction to intimate piercings here: Female genital piercings and male genital piercings.