A fourchette piercing is done at the rear entrance of the vagina, near the perineum. The fourchette, which means “little fork” in French, is the small flap of skin that joins the labia minor — or inner lips — together.
Once the jewelry’s in place, a fourchette piercing looks like it sits just under the opening of the vagina.
It’s similar to the guiche piercing on people with penises.
While a fourchette might not offer quite the degree of stimulation associated with clit hood piercings, it does have some sexual benefits for the pierced person and their partners.
For your benefit
Anyone with a genital piercing will tell you that it’s boosted their confidence, which in turn boosts pleasure. And there’s science to back this.
Research shows that genital self-image is tied to sexual functioning, and people who are happy with the way their genitals look have an easier time getting aroused and achieving orgasm.
As far as the feels go, people who have a fourchette piercing describe feeling unique and pleasurable sensations from it during sexual and nonsexual activities.
For your partner’s benefit
The effects of a fourchette piercing on your partner aren’t really direct, but that doesn’t stop them from deriving pleasure from it.
Just the aesthetic of a fourchette piercing — or any genital piercing for that matter — can be enough to provoke some serious arousal in some partners.
Combine this with your heightened sexual confidence, and a boost in pleasure for both is almost a given.
Your partner may also find pleasure in feeling the piercing during penetrative vaginal sex or oral sex.
People who’ve had an episiotomy during childbirth aren’t candidates for the fourchette because of the scarring in the area.
This aside, the fourchette piercing is actually pretty rare because few people have enough tissue to pierce safely.
To be a good candidate for it, the lip of skin needs to be well defined and large enough to leave as much distance between the edge of the tissue and the piercing as possible.
According to the Piercing Bible, that requires around 3/8 of an inch of natural elevation.
To find out if you’re a good candidate for it, reach down and see if you’re able to (gently) pinch the skin. If there isn’t enough to pinch, the piercing probably won’t be a good fit.
If you’re not sure, you can book an evaluation with an experienced piercer who can check for you.
Jewelry for a fourchette piercing needs to be thick enough to prevent injuring the skin, which is especially fine and prone to tearing.
A curved bar or a ring is what’s usually recommended.
Keep in mind that certain styles and sizes can interfere with penetration, so you’ll want to choose your piece accordingly. Your piercer can guide you in the right direction.
The Association of Professional Piercers (APP) recommends using jewelry made of solid 14-karat gold or higher or implant-grade metals with ASTM International or International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approval.
Here’s a closer look at the recommended options:
- Solid 14-karat gold or higher. It can be pricey, but gold is safe for most people and fairly versatile since you can choose from white, yellow, or rose gold. Just be sure the jewelry is solid gold and not gold-plated, which can flake and expose you to other metals underneath, including nickel.
- Stainless steel. This is the most commonly used metal, especially for initial piercings because it’s inexpensive and is safe for most unless you have a severe nickel allergy. This is because it contains some nickel, but it has a low rate of release. Choose stainless steel pieces that are ASTM-F138 or ISO-5832-1 compliant.
- Titanium. Titanium is pricier than stainless steel, but it’s safe for everyone because it doesn’t contain nickel. Look for pieces that are ASTM-F136 or ISO 5832-3 compliant.
On average, female genital piercings cost between $50 and $100 for the service alone.
Fourchette piercings aren’t common and require a skilled and highly trained piercer, who usually costs more than someone with less experience.
The studio and your location can also impact cost.
Other potential expenses to keep in mind are:
- Jewelry. Jewelry isn’t usually included and can cost an extra $20 to $60, depending on the material and style you choose.
- Evaluation fee. A reputable piercer will want to perform an evaluation to make sure you have enough tissue for the piercing. Some piercers charge an extra fee for this on top of the service.
- Tip. You should absolutely tip your piercer if you’re happy with the service. How much you tip is up to you, but 20 percent is customary.
Once you’ve filled out some paperwork and signed a waiver, you’ll be taken to a private room where you’ll undress from the waist down.
If you haven’t already had an evaluation, your piercer will perform one to see if you have enough tissue to accommodate a fourchette piercing and the jewelry you want to use.
To do this piercing, your piercer will:
- disinfect the area with a surgical-grade scrub
- use forceps or a needle receiving tube to prepare the tissue for the needle
- pierce a sterile needle through the marked spot and out the other
- insert the jewelry you’ve chosen and close it
- clean up any blood in the area and disinfect the area again
Yes, but only for a split second, and not as much as clit piercing.
The piercing isn’t nearly as intense as other piercings because the needle only passes through a very small amount of thin tissue.
Most people find the process more awkward than anything else, since the placement requires a bit of internal manipulation.
Infection and migration are the two biggies to keep in mind with a fourchette piercing.
The placement of this piercing is in close proximity to the anus and, well, poop. This means that extra diligence is a must to help keep the piercing clean.
A fourchette piercing is also prone to migration, especially if your tissue isn’t well-suited for it. Migration or rejection of the piercing can cause your skin to split (ouch!) and cause scarring.
And then you’ve got the usual risks associated with any piercing:
- Bleeding. It’s no surprise that puncturing a hole in the skin will cause bleeding. This area doesn’t tend to bleed a lot, but it’s possible.
- Infection. All piercings carry a risk of infection, especially if proper hygiene and aftercare aren’t practiced. There’s also the risk of contracting blood-borne infections, like tetanus and HIV, if contaminated needles are used.
- Allergic reactions. Some people can have an allergic reaction to certain metals, especially nickel. Depending on the severity of the allergy, the symptoms can range from mild to severe.
- Tearing and trauma. The fourchette is delicate and the placement of the piercing means that you sit on it, which increases the risk of irritation, tearing, and other trauma.
A fourchette piercing generally heals within 4 to 6 weeks.
The side of the range you fall to depends on your overall health and how well you look after the piercing.
Proper aftercare can make or break a piercing. This is especially true with a fourchette piercing, and it requires a little extra care because of its placement.
During the healing process, do the following:
- Be very careful with your piercing.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before touching your piercing.
- Spray or soak the area with saline solution 3 or 4 times a day.
- Pat dry with a clean paper towel any time you rinse your piercing.
- Wipe front-to-back after a poo — as you always should, BTW — to move bacteria away from the piercing.
- Shower once or twice a day.
- Avoid sitting on unclean surfaces unless you’re wearing underwear and clothing.
- Avoid things that put pressure on the fourchette, like bikes, tight pants, or thongs.
- Wear panty liners or pads to keep your piercing dry and protected.
- Wait till your piercing is “dry” or healed before having sex.
- Use barrier protection when you have vaginal, anal, oral, or any other kind of sex.
- Use protection with sex toys, too.
- Stay out of pools, hot tubs, lakes, etc.
- Keep your jewelry in at all times.
While healing, follow these don’ts:
- Don’t play with your piercing or let anyone else play with it.
- Don’t touch it with unwashed hands.
- Don’t sit on unclean surfaces without clothes on.
- Don’t have sex without a barrier method.
- Don’t allow your partner’s saliva or other bodily fluids to come into contact with your piercing.
- Don’t use harsh cleansers or wipes on your piercing.
- Don’t remove your jewelry.
Mild tenderness is par for the course after a piercing, but other symptoms might indicate an infection.
See your piercer or a healthcare provider right away if you notice any of these:
You should try to leave the initial jewelry in until you’re fully healed.
The placement of the piercing makes it almost impossible to change the jewelry without some help, especially when doing it for the first time.
Make an appointment to have your piercer change it for you. They can also give you some pointers for changing it yourself in the future if you want.
Well-established fourchette piercings tend to remain open even once you stop wearing jewelry.
If you decide to retire your piercing before then, its placement is discreet enough that you don’t need to worry about it leaving a visible mark with the exception of maybe a tiny divot on the outer portion.
Fourchette piercings require a well-defined and sizable ridge of tissue that not everyone has. Getting one if you’re not well-suited could result in some pretty painful complications. Choosing a reputable and skilled piercer is the best way to prevent this.
Use the APP members directory to find reputable piercers in your area.
When considering a piercer, be sure to:
- Ask to see photos of their work, including clients’ healed piercings.
- Visit the studio in person to check for cleanliness and professionalism.
- Ask about their equipment sterilization process.
- Check the quality of the jewelry they stock.
Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.