If you’re a fan of body jewelry, you might have wondered about getting one of your most pleasurable parts pierced.
You can get your actual clit pierced, but getting the clitoral hood pierced is safer and more common. This is usually what people are referring to when they mention a clit piercing.
Genital jewelry can produce some stimulating results, but here’s what you need to know before taking the piercing plunge.
Are there different types?
- Glans. A clitoral glans piercing is the only version that pierces the actual clitoris — generally through the clitoral head if it’s a vertical piercing, or its midpoint if it’s horizontal.
- VCH. The vertical clitoral hood piercing wins the popularity contest among clit décor. It pierces vertically through a thin section of the hood’s peak.
- HCH. The horizontal clitoral hood piercing goes — you guessed it — horizontally through the base of the hood.
- Triangle. The triangle piercing goes horizontally through the base of the hood and underneath the shaft of the clitoris, according to one of the early performers of the procedure, Elayne Angel, author of Piercing Bible.
- Princess Diana. Princess Diana piercings, according to Angel, who named the concept, are usually performed in pairs and may be an addition to a VCH. They’re essentially VCH piercings but done off to the sides. If you have a VCH, you might flank it with PDs, for example.
- Christina. The Christina, also called a Venus, isn’t actually a clitoral glans or hood piercing — but it’s often brought up as an alternative. One insertion point goes through the very front of the vulva, called the cleft of Venus. The piercing then extends through a small portion of the mons pubis, where it emerges.
What does it look like?
Are there sexual benefits?
Clitoral glans and hood piercings can enhance arousal and pleasure during personal or partner play or sexual activity — and even when you aren’t getting frisky.
For your benefit
The VCH, Princess Diana, or triangle piercings are the most likely to boost sensation for the piercee.
The VCH and Princess Diana piercings typically use a bead that rests on and taps the clitoris, especially during stimulation of the clitoral hood or glans itself.
The triangle can heighten pleasure during direct clit stim or vaginal or anal penetration. That’s because the internal parts of the clitoris itself extend downward to encircle the vaginal canal and even reach toward the anus.
The triangle piercing can create a hot button of pleasure with the ring stimulating you from behind your clitoral shaft and even bumping the actual clit with the external parts of the hardware.
While you might think a glans piercing will elicit the most pleasure, it’s not without the risk of nerve damage to the delicate part just from the procedure, even if it’s done correctly.
For your partner’s benefit
Any glans or clitoral hood piercing can enhance pleasure for your partner by also creating slight stimulation against their genitals, depending on the position.
Plus, your partner may also gain a sense of arousal from stimulating your genital piercing digitally or orally.
Just seeing your piercings may even elicit extra arousal in your partner.
The Christina and the HCH are typically meant for aesthetic purposes because neither of these piercings bump against your clit.
However, the Christina may be a fun source of clit stim for a partner during vulva-on-vulva action.
Can everyone get it?
Your nose is different from the next person’s, and so is your vulva. That’s why some piercings may not work on certain glans or hood shapes or sizes.
Get an evaluation from a reputable piercer to determine if you’re a candidate for a particular piercing. Here are a few things to consider.
The glans piercing is rare
You may be hard-pressed to find a piercer willing to perform a glans piercing, unless you’ve had previous genital piercings without issues, according to the Association of Professional Piercers (APP).
Plus, most people don’t have a clitoris that’s large enough to accommodate this type of piercing. And even if you do, your hood and other surrounding tissue may be too tight for fitting the jewelry within, according to The Axiom Body Piercing Studio.
Other piercings may be a better choice
Most clitoral hoods are deep enough to hold a VCH piercing. But if you have prominent labia majora, or outer lips, this may make an HCA piercing uncomfortable.
Your piercer should make sure there’s room
Your studio should perform the Q-tip test before doing any type of glans or hood piercing. A sterile cotton tip is inserted underneath the hood to ensure there’s enough space for the procedure and that the jewelry can be positioned comfortably.
What types of jewelry are used for this piercing?
Although the body piercing jewelry selections out there might seem endless, only a few shapes are best for glans or clitoral hood piercings.
Curved, rather than straight adornments, make the most sense because they move more fluidly with the body’s shape, according to the Axiom.
- A circular barbell is shaped like a semicircle or horseshoe, and it has two balls or beads that unscrew from the ends.
- A captive bead ring, also called a closed ball ring, is a ring that holds a bead or ball between a small opening. The ends of the ring press into two indentations on the ball, holding it in place.
- A curved barbell is a slightly curved bar-shaped piercing with beads or balls that unscrew at the ends.
What material options are available for your jewelry?
The APP recommends that implant-grade metals or solid 14-karat gold or higher be used for piercings. The use of these metals can help prevent infection, exposure to toxins, allergic reactions, degradation of the jewelry, and other issues.
Metals approved by ASTM International or International Organization for Standardization (ISO) meet requirements for implantation. Ask your piercing studio if they carry the reputable brand Anatometal.
- Implant grade titanium is lightweight, doesn’t corrode when repeatedly exposed to bodily fluids, and it doesn’t have nickel, which some people are allergic too. Look for ASTM-F136 or ISO 5832-3 compliant pieces.
- Implant grade stainless steel is another safe option. Although it does have nickel, a protective layer on the metal serves as a barrier between the nickel and your body. Look for ASTM-F138 or ISO-5832-1 compliant pieces.
- Solid 14-karat gold (either yellow, white, or rose) that’s free of nickel or cadmium will also work.
How much does this piercing usually cost?
Cost will vary based on your location, studio, and style of piercing.
- Procedure. Most genital piercings range from $50 to $100 just for the service. Plan to pay more for complicated piercings, such as a triangle, or for multiple piercings, like a paired Princess Diana.
- Tip. It’s customary to include a tip of at least 20 percent of the piercing cost.
- Jewelry. Some piercing studios will include basic jewelry with their piercing price. Make sure they’re using the implant-grade options mentioned above. You may also have to pay separately for jewelry, with prices usually starting around $30.
How is this piercing done?
Procedures will vary by studio, but you can expect a few things when you arrive for your clitoral glans or hood piercing, according to The Axiom.
- Paperwork. You’ll be asked to show your ID to ensure that you’re 18 or older. Then you’ll have to fill out a form that will include a liability waiver.
- Evaluation. If you haven’t had a previous evaluation, your piercer will evaluate you for the type of piercing you want and the jewelry you’d like to use. Your piercer should wear gloves when touching you.
- Disinfecting. When you’re ready to begin, the piercer will clean your skin with a surgical scrub.
- Marking. Your piercer will then mark the area to be pierced.
- Piercing. Depending on the type of piercing, this may involve the use of a needle feeding tube to guide the needle. If you’re getting a VCH, for example, the feeding tube will be inserted under the hood. Your piercer will then ask you if you’re ready. You may be told to take a deep breath, followed by an exhale, to lessen the pain of the needle going in.
- Jewelry insertion. Your piercer will follow the needle with the jewelry and then close it up.
- Cleanup. Your piercer should stop any bleeding and then clean the piercing area before you go.
Will it hurt?
If you ask 10 people if it hurt when they got their genital piercing, you’ll likely get 10 different answers.
That’s because how you experience a piercing will depend on many factors, including the type of piercing you get.
Expect more sensation if you get a glans piercing rather than a hood piercing, for example.
An experienced piercer will do their best to minimize your pain. Your pain tolerance will also determine your pain level. Some people even enjoy the sensation of getting pierced.
If you’ve had previous body piercings, you can generally expect a similar experience, according to the APP. There may be a few seconds of an intense sensation, followed by a lessening of that intensity.
What risks are associated with this piercing?
Several of the risks associated with clitoral glans or clitoral hood piercings are similar to those of other body piercings. This includes:
- Allergic reaction. Allergic reaction can occur to nickel in certain jewelry material. That’s why it’s important to make sure your hardware is implant-grade or solid 14-karat gold or higher.
- Tearing. Tearing is when a piercing gets caught on something and rips out of the body.
- Infection. Any piercing presents the risk of infection if proper aftercare hygiene isn’t followed. A piercing infection can also result from the use of unclean needles during the procedure. However, proper piercing practices, like the use of sterilized, disposable equipment, should eliminate this risk.
- Embedding. If your jewelry is too short, the skin can grow over and embed it.
- Migration and rejection. Simply put, your piercing might not stay put. Migration involves a piercing moving from its original location. This can happen if a piercing doesn’t have adequate tissue to hold it. Rejection is when a piercing slowly migrates to the surface of the skin and then out of the body.
- Nerve damage. Although there’s potential for nerve damage with any piercing, it’s more likely to occur with a clitoral glans piercing than with a hood piercing, according to Angel.
- Botched piercing. An untrained piercer could pierce the wrong piece of anatomy, such as the clit, when you’ve specified the clitoral hood.
There’s an assumption that genital piercings put the piercee or their sexual partners at an increased risk of sexually transmitted infections. But studies show that this possible increase is small — if it even exists.
To minimize risks, find a piercer who specializes in the type of piercing you want and one who is listed as an APP member.
How long does it take to heal?
Healing time for clitoral glans or hood piercings varies, depending on the style and your body.
The average healing time is:
- Glans: 4 to 8 weeks
- VCH: 4 to 8 weeks
- HCH: 6 to 8 weeks
- Triangle: 12 to 18 weeks
- Princess Diana: 4 to 8 weeks
- Christina: 24 weeks to a full year
Symptoms during healing may include a light bleeding or spotting for a few days and redness or swelling for a couple of weeks.
You may also notice a light drainage and crusting during the healing period, just as you would with any other piercing.
How do you clean and care for the piercing?
Piercings on your privates need gentle care, especially during the healing period. Use the proper aftercare methods recommended by the APP listed below.
You may be wondering when you can have sex. The answer is when you’re ready — even a few days after the piercing is fine.
During the healing process, do:
- Be gentle with your piercing.
- Wash your hands before touching your piercing.
- Wash your piercing daily with a sterile saline solution.
- Wash with saline after sex.
- Urinate after cleaning your piercing or showering.
- Shower daily.
- Sleep in clean bedding.
- Wear clean clothing.
- Use fresh towels.
- Change out of damp gym or swim clothes immediately.
- Use barrier protection, like condoms and dental dams, during partner sex.
- Put protection on your sex toys, too.
- Make sure to use water-based lubricant, if you’re using it.
- Leave jewelry in at all times.
During the healing process, don’t:
- Play with your piercing until it’s fully healed.
- Be rough or allow a partner to be rough with your piercing.
- Allow your partner’s mouth or bodily fluids to come into contact with your piercing.
- Have sex without condoms or other barrier methods during healing time.
- Touch your piercing or allow someone else to touch it with unclean hands.
- Use harsh soaps or cleansers on your piercing.
- Remove your jewelry.
- Swim in a pool, lake, or ocean until your piercing is healed.
- Wear clothing that rubs or irritates your piercing.
What symptoms should you watch for?
Although some tenderness is expected during healing, there are a few symptoms that might indicate an infection.
- skin that’s inflamed and hot to the touch
- pain when you clean or otherwise touch the area
- pelvic pain when you move around
- pus-like discharge from the piercing site
- foul odor around the piercing site
- fever, body aches, or other flu-like symptoms
If you suspect that something’s wrong, don’t remove your jewelry.
According to the APP, this can cause the piercing to close at the surface and seal in an infection if you have one.
Instead, see your piercer or a medical professional immediately.
If a medical professional asks you to remove your jewelry, Angel recommends that you bring up your concerns about sealing in an infection.
How long will a healed piercing last?
Although some piercings may migrate, others will last until you’re ready to remove them.
How do you change the jewelry?
Clitoral glans and hood jewelry is best changed by a trained piercer.
Ask your piercer if they offer this service for free. Many studios do to ensure the safety of their clients.
Don’t change jewelry during the healing period.
If you have an upcoming medical procedure where you have to remove the piercing, talk to your piercer first. Your piercer may have a solution to prevent closure.
How do you retire the piercing?
As long as you’re safely past the healing period, you can remove it on your own with clean hands.
If you’re still in the healing phase, you should return to your piercer for safe removal.
After removal at any time, clean the piercing hole with saline regularly until it heals.
Talk to your prospective piercer
Do your research on piercers in your area. Read online reviews and see if the studio provides info on their website about the specific piercing you’re seeking.
If they don’t have info about genital piercings, that may be an indicator that you should look elsewhere.
When you find a prospective piercer, ask for a consultation to get your questions answered.
Your piercer will be able to check your anatomy to determine if the type of clitoral glans or hood piercing you want will work for your body.
If it won’t, they may be able to suggest an alternative. Remember: Each vulva is unique, so what works for one person may not work for another.
Jennifer Chesak is a medical journalist for several national publications, a writing instructor, and a freelance book editor. She earned her Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill. She’s also the managing editor for the literary magazine Shift. Jennifer lives in Nashville but hails from North Dakota, and when she’s not writing or sticking her nose in a book, she’s usually running trails or futzing with her garden. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter.