How long have you had it for?
Woman A: Eleven years.
Woman B: I got the first one done when I was 17 and the second a year later at 18. So about 10 years.
Woman C: Three years.
Man A: I had it for about 1.5 years and then took it out. I ultimately decided to take it out because it kept getting caught up in my underwear and getting pulled on in bad ways while running or playing sports.
What motivated you to get it done?
Woman A: I saw another girl get her clitoris pierced and thought it looked awesome. However, my piercer persuaded me that I had a better chance of not losing sensation if I got the hood rather than the actual clit pierced.
Woman B: Piercings were really popular in my friendship group as a teen, and I was really keen to get one, but I had to get something my parents wouldn't see!
Woman C: I have several piercings "in plain sight" because I like the look of them. That is also one of the main reasons I got the genital piercing. The other reason is the increased stimulation that comes from it. I am not naturally very sensitive in that region. I am quite prudish so only me, my piercer, and my (ex) partners have seen it. I wanted to have this piercing for several years, but I was afraid of it being very painful, so I put it off for a while.
Man A: A little bit of curiosity and peer pressure. What finally made me do it was hooking up with a girl who wanted a genital piercing herself. The week she wanted to get hers done, she called me and told me I should go with her. But after the piercing, you’re supposed to abstain from sex due to STD concerns for a while and we never ended up hooking up again.
What was the process of getting pierced? How did you select your piercer? And what happened on the day?
Woman A: I talked to a lot of different piercers until I found one I was comfortable with, working at a clean studio with a good reputation. As soon as I found her though, I got it done within 10 minutes of talking to her! On the day, I went to the piercing place with the intention of just talking, but she was calm, confident, and able to talk me through the process sensibly. She was different from the previous people I'd asked; I just knew I was happy to have her pierce me somewhere both private and so potentially painful. The only downside was I was the only one allowed into the piercing room, so there was no chance to hold my boyfriend's hand.
Woman B: I had done lots and lots of research about piercings prior to getting the first one, but when it actually came to having it done, I just walked into a piercing parlor on a whim after school one day. I paid my money and they put the jewelry in the autoclave [sterilizing chamber] and I wandered around the city while I was waiting. When I went back to get the piercing, the piercer asked me if I'd been at work, and when I said I'd just finished school for the day, he asked how old I was. When I told him I was 17, he refused to do the piercing and refunded my money. I walked around the corner to another piercer who had done one for a friend of mine — he didn't ask for my ID and I went home with a pierced nipple! The second time, I went back to the same guy who'd done the first piercing. He ended up doing all my piercings over the years.
Woman C: Most of my piercings are done by the same person so I naturally went back as I had good experiences with them. It is strange to take off your clothing and lie half-naked in a chair with a near-stranger though! I took care to wear loose-fitting bottoms and a panty liner (just in case). Of course, you take a shower beforehand and make sure the area is cleaned and shaved. At first, you discuss with the piercer what you want, and they explain the procedure and aftercare. The piercer disinfects the area, selects the right jewel, and the entry points for the needle are marked. Then the needle goes through and the jewel is placed.
Man A: The piercer I used was someone my friend knew and trusted and had gotten other piercings from. I didn't do my own research because I trusted my friend.
Did it hurt?
Woman A: Yes! But only for about three seconds. I swore quite loudly as she did the piercing. I have other piercings and they hurt a little bit, but this was a lot worse. I was really glad it was over quickly.
Woman B: It did but not as badly as you'd think. The adrenaline rush afterward made up for it — I felt pretty invincible.
Woman C: Yes! I don't think there is any piercing that doesn't hurt. The pain is also partially due to the fear… You know what is coming. The process was very quick, so the pain is only for a few seconds. As the barbell is placed, it feels very uncomfortable. I have had other piercings done so I did know what to expect. Afterward, there was no real pain, just a feeling of soreness. That lasted for about a day. After that, it was totally fine.
Man A: The actual piercing was pretty easy. The piercer said the skin is so thin there that it isn't bad. It was probably more uncomfortable when she had to push the tube down the urethra to catch the needle.
How long did it take to heal? Did you have to wait before you could have sex again?
Woman A: It was an incredibly quick heal. I wore a maxi pad, big pants, and loose skirts for a couple of days afterward as it did bleed initially when it rubbed against something. I felt fine to have penetrative sex after less than a month (but nothing missionary or where it was likely to rub my clit for about two months).
Woman B: I was religious about cleaning the piercings with salt baths regularly and they both healed in a couple of weeks with no problems. The piercings didn't impede my sex life, really — we just had to be a bit careful when they were still tender.
Woman C: The healing period is about three weeks, which is relatively fast due to the amount of blood flow in the area. I abstained from sex for that time. It is possible to have sex after a week but I didn't want to take the risk.
Man A: It took about a week to heal to a normal, not-having-to-worry-about-it-level, but full healing was around four months if I remember correctly. It bled a lot. Every time you pee, it would open up the scab and cause it to bleed. The piercer recommended buying condoms and stuffing tissues in the bottom, then wearing them. That lasted two or three days, and then it was just sore. The other unexpected thing was adjusting to peeing. Several times I would go to use the bathroom and realize I had peed on the floor. It would drip down the ring and kind of spray randomly until you got more used to having it. Ejaculating didn’t seem to be affected as much. You would get dripping from the piercing but not as bad as with urine.
How does it enhance your sexual pleasure now?
Woman A: Lots! I find clitoral orgasms a lot easier now because there's something rubbing exactly the right spot. Also, having a big "This Is It" sign gives new lovers (men, especially) a great deal of confidence in giving me sexual pleasure, which makes them more experimental. They know they can get me to come so they don't worry about trying new things.
Woman B: They've made my nipples more sensitive, for one thing. The men I've slept with have mostly found them to be a pleasant surprise and a turn-on. I also find it pretty exciting revealing them to someone for the first time.
Woman C: Due to the barbell resting on the clitoris, any sensation down there is enhanced. I do think I became more sensitive. I used to have problems giving myself orgasms but it is much easier now, which I attribute to the piercing.
Man A: After healing fully, it made the sensations around the tip of your penis very intense. The ring pushing around caused sudden good sensations.
Are there any particular sex acts you find that your piercing enhances?
Woman A: Missionary position is no longer dull! Also, receiving oral sex is fantastic. Before it could lack enough pressure on the right bits without the other person having a strong tongue but now it's lovely.
Woman B: Any type of breast or nipple play, but particularly when they are licked.
Woman C: Specifically manual stimulation and cowgirl position due to the friction at the right places.
Man A: Most of them were enhanced. Anytime the ring would press on my urethra, it was more pleasurable.
Does your piercing impact your partner(s)'s pleasure at all?
Woman A: They tend to have a better time because I'm so excited. With girls, scissoring works out better (as long as the angles work out), but other than that, it doesn't really impact.
Woman B: Some of my partners have been indifferent or reacted with mild interest, but some of them have found the piercings to be a real turn-on and have focused on them a lot. There's that idea that men are very visual so I think the piercings are pleasurable in that regard.
Woman C: No, I don't think so. Due to its placement, it is not in the way or anything. I also never got stuck in anything (which was a fear I used to have). In daily life, I don't notice it at all. I've heard stories about people with clit-hood piercings who cannot ride bikes due to the stimulation but it hasn't been a problem for me.
Man A: It enhanced sex, as she would feel it inside of her, but I found they like oral sex less. The ring tended to choke her in that case.
Do you have other piercings on your body?
Woman A: Yes — six ear piercings and my belly button. I intend to have my nipples done at Christmas.
Woman C: Yes, I have several ear piercings, a belly button piercing, and two facial piercings.
Man A: I had two lip piercings and an eyebrow piercing.
Do you find piercings sexy in other people?
Woman A: Depends who and where but often, yes. I like belly button piercings on girls. I love earrings on pretty much everyone. I have a particular love of the one ear pierced on slightly unkempt-looking guys who have a Kurt Cobain thing going. I had a girlfriend for a while with pierced nipples and they were sexy on her, but I prefer rings to bars.
Woman B: Yes! Though not as much as I did when I was a teenager. But my personal taste with piercings, whether they're on someone's face or genitalia, is that less is more. Heaps and heaps of piercings are not really my thing.
Woman C: I don't know if "sexy" is the right word but it can be very aesthetically pleasing. My current partner does not have any piercings, nor any desire to get any.
Man A: Yes, very much so.
What should someone who is having sex with someone who has a piercing be aware of?
Woman A: Don't be rough with the piercing! Also, don't laugh if they suddenly need to adjust it.
Woman B: Make sure they're clean and healed before you do too much playing with them! I cannot stress enough making sure that you clean them properly. Infected and angry-looking piercings are grim and will make you very, very unhappy.
Woman C: It really depends on the kind of piercing. At first, you are of course a bit careful, but I don't think it changed the way I have sex.
Man A: Just to be gentle until you know your partner’s comfort level with it. If it got pulled on too hard it hurt significantly. Also both parties should know that during healing, the risk of STD transmission is higher since there is an open wound present. So always use protection. I never had a condom rip [because of the ring], but I did buy a larger condom so it wasn’t as tight. I found that more comfortable.
Is there anything else readers should know about sexual piercings?
Woman A: Keep it clean, take care of it, and sometimes it will get tangled in clothes — stop moving and adjust subtly!
Woman B: Do lots of research before getting anything done and make sure the parlour is clean, and that the jewellery and equipment is properly sterilised in an autoclave. Piercings can be really fun but a great thing is that you can take them out if you're over them. Having said that, I'm so used to mine now [that] they feel like a part of me and I would feel weird without them.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan US.