Nipple Piercing: What You Need to Consider

Shyness, Pain, Healing, Sensitivity, and Other Concerns

A man with pierced nipples.
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Even though body piercings are among the most common forms of body modification, many people consider nipple piercings a sensitive topic and think of their questions as embarrassing. If you're thinking about getting your nipples pierced, the following might help you sort through your concerns.

Pain

Getting your nipples pierced can be a breeze, thanks to the adrenaline and noradrenaline your body releases as part of the "fight or flight" response.

These biochemicals help minimize pain and are responsible for that little rush of excitement you'll feel as you await the procedure. Speaking of anticipation: It's likely to be worse than the actual procedure, which isn't completely painless but is over in seconds.

Shyness

Feeling a little apprehensive about presenting your nipple to a stranger? That's perfectly normal. Try to remember that your piercer is a professional, and this is not a sexual thing. The less clothing you have to remove, the better, so wear a button-down top. This way, you have to expose only the nipple being pierced and can keep everything else covered up.

Abnormal Nipple Shape

If your nipples are inverted, flat, or otherwise differently shaped, schedule a consultation with your piercer to determine if they can be pierced and what the effect will be. Assessing a condition without seeing it is difficult, and you risk disappointment if you wait until your actual piercing appointment to discuss these issues with your piercer.

Healing and Soreness

The speed of the healing process depends a lot on the size and weight of your breasts. Those with small breasts usually have fewer problems than those with heavier ones because they're less apt to catch on clothing through natural movement. You'll never realize how much pulling and squishing your nipples undergo every day until you have them pierced!

An ice pack or a package of frozen peas or corn can do wonders for soreness. Sea-salt soaks also soothe a sore nipple piercing. Most nipples fit comfortably in a small cup of salt water, so you can do this easily while watching TV, reading a book, or relaxing. Soak the pierced nipple for about five minutes, and then rinse it well.

All in all, your piercing should take only about six to eight weeks to heal. If your nipples still haven't healed after that, you might have an allergy or sensitivity to the jewelry you are wearing. You also might be doing something to aggravate the site without realizing it. Visit your professional piercer, who can check it out and make informed suggestions.

Jewelry Rejection

Although a nipple piercing is similar to a surface piercing in that it enters and exits the skin in two different areas, it's not quite the same. The nipple is fleshy enough to be pierced securely behind plenty of skin to prevent rejection. That doesn't mean a nipple piercing can't reject jewelry, though, especially if it's not done properly in the first place. If the jewelry gauge is too thin or the piercing isn't deep enough, you run the risk of rejection. Other possible causes of rejection include infection, an allergy to the metal, and excessive irritation and tugging—just as with any piercing.

Bra or Nah

Wearing a bra will actually feel better to you, and you might even want to sleep with it on. You'll find that sports bras provide the most comfort. The most important consideration is moisture buildup; wear a bra that allows your skin to breathe. If you sweat, remove your bra, cleanse your piercing, and then don a new bra.

You will not need to change the size of your bra. The little ring isn't going to make that much of a difference in cup size, and a snug bra will feel better during the healing process.

A little bit of leakage during the healing process is normal. If you don't want this fluid getting on your bra, buy nipple pads designed for breastfeeding mothers. They're soft and disposable, and they'll create a comfortable barrier between your nipple and your bra.

Nipple Erection/Hardness

You might have heard stories about nipples staying hard once they're pierced, but this doesn't always happen.

They may stay erect for a while, but once your body gets used to the piercings, your nipples will more than likely relax. If you have flat nipples, piercing them can help push them out a little bit, but that doesn't mean they will always stand erect.

Breastfeeding

Crazy rumors about breastfeeding with pierced nipples abound. In most cases, however, pierced nipples don't cause problems with the breastfeeding process itself; in fact, some mothers have found that piercings actually help increase milk flow (but not the actual amount). If you're expecting, you'll have to decide what works best for you: removing the jewelry altogether for the duration, or removing it only for feeding sessions.

If you remove nipple jewelry until you wean your baby, the hole might close. You'd simply repierce when you're ready, as long as at least six weeks have passed since you last nursed. For many mothers, this is the simplest solution.

Some nursing mothers keep the jewelry in, but doctors recommend removing it for each nursing session. A piercing site can be a breeding ground for bacteria that a baby can ingest, and the baby could even choke on a piece of jewelry that comes loose. Constant removal and replacement, however, can cause soreness. Breastfeeding can make your nipples a bit sore to begin with, so you probably won't want to cause any additional aggravation. Ultimately, the decision is yours. 

Sensitivity and Arousal

Most women say that piercing makes their nipples more sensitive. This doesn't mean you'll be in a constant state of arousal; once you get used to the piercings, they'll provide the most sensation when you want them to.

When it comes to sexual activity, tell your partner it's hands and mouth off for two weeks after piercing. Even if the piercing feels OK, it's not healed. Germs and bacteria can cause a painful infection, so you'll just have to find other ways to entertain yourselves. 

Lost Jewelry

If your jewelry falls out, see your piercer as quickly as possible to have it put back in.

Nipple piercings, even when healed, can close very quickly. If you try to put the jewelry back in yourself, however, it may feel like it's completely closed when it's not. Your piercer can use tapers and lubricant to ease the piercing back open without having to repierce if you get there fast enough (generally, within 24 hours).

Once the hole has closed partially or fully, you're looking at a repiercing. A professional, experienced piercer will not pierce through scar tissue if it's avoidable; instead, a new hole will be created through soft flesh. Second nipple piercings pose no more risk of difficulty with breastfeeding than first ones do.