Some piercings hurt much more than others, and some may have longer healing times that can be uncomfortable for months.

Body piercings are becoming more popular and accepted. What once seemed the realm of alternative lifestyles now appears in executive boardrooms and corporate offices.

You may be thinking of getting one yourself. But which ones hurt the most?

There’s no easy answer to this question. Everyone feels a little (or a lot of) pain when they get a piercing. Everyone’s pain tolerance is different.

Even your perception of pain can affect how much it hurts. If you’re excited about getting your piercing, or if you actually like a little bit of pain, then your experience may be totally different from someone who’s anxious.

But there’s some evidence that certain areas of your body are more prone to pain than others. And, of course, plenty of stories from people who have tried these piercings.

Here’s a general rule of thumb: The fewer nerves in the area, the less pain you’ll feel.

Here is how much each type of piercing may hurt in order of most painful to least painful.

Genital piercing

Your genitals are among the most nerve-dense areas on your body.

The penis contains about 4,000 nerve endings that branch off from the pudendal nerve. Expect this one to hurt quite a bit.

A penis can be pierced in a variety of ways, from Prince Albert to deep shaft. Pain will vary based on piercing location.

The clitoris is also quite sensitive and contains thousands of nerve endings. Even if you’re pretty tolerant to pain, a clitoris piercing may hurt many times worse than any other piercing pain.

Nipple piercing pain level

The nipple is another commonly pierced area that’s pretty sensitive.

In fact, the nipple nerves communicate directly with the brain, similarly to how the genitals do. They’re both erogenous zones, which means they actually overstimulate your brain for more intense pleasure.

But this means the pain may also be more intense.

Nose piercing pain level

The pain of a nose piercing varies based on the part of the nose that’s pierced.

A septum piercing (the tissue between your nostrils) can hurt a lot for a short time but heals quickly because the septum is so thin.

And if you have a deviated septum or similar condition, this kind of piercing can hurt even more because your septum nerves can be overactive.

High nostril piercings, like those up nearer to the top of your nose, may hurt less but can take longer to heal. The pain during recovery might be worse than that of a septum piercing.

Dermal piercing pain

Dermal piercings are piercings that go directly into your skin and don’t come out another end. They can be done all over your body, but many people get them on the face, chest, or lower back.

The pain for a dermal piercing depends on where it’s done. Having a piece of jewelry thrust downward through several layers of skin can be pretty painful. Be ready for some discomfort.

Some piercings aren’t known to hurt much at all. Here are a few you might want to try if you have a low pain tolerance.

Ear piercing pain level

Ear piercings are popular for a reason: They don’t hurt much, and the tissue of your ear tends to heal quickly.

Some less common ear piercings hurt more because the cartilage is thicker and more nerve dense, such as:

Some ear piercings can fully heal in less than a month if you take care of them properly. This reduces the chance they’ll get infected or have painful complications, too.

Belly button piercing pain level

Belly button piercings are considered the second least painful piercings after ear piercings.

That’s because the thick tissue left behind from when your umbilical cord was removed is flesh and not very nerve dense.

You may feel a lot of pressure when the needle goes through because the tissue is hard to poke through, but the pain goes away quickly. They take several months to 1 year to heal.

Tongue piercing pain level

Tongue piercings are actually on the lower end of the pain spectrum.

But they’re exposed to lots of bacteria when you eat or drink. They’re more likely to get infected and experience other complications if you don’t take care of them properly.

Brushing, flossing, and rinsing your mouth with a saline solution can make a big difference on how fast your tongue piercing heals and how painful it is.

Eyebrow piercing pain

Eyebrow piercings are right on the boundary between painful and not.

There are quite a few major eyebrow nerves in this area, so the location of the piercing makes a huge difference. For example, the supraorbital nerve makes piercings near the middle of your eyebrows much more painful.

Most piercings, regardless of how painful they are, are most intense for a split second as the needle goes through and the jewelry is inserted.

Many people describe it as a sting that quickly subsides. Some piercings might feel sore or raw for some weeks or months afterward. This may depend on how well you take care of the piercing.

A good piercer may use techniques to calm you and reduce your pain. This can affect how painful you perceive your piercing to be.

Here are some questions to ask to find a good piercer:

  • Are they licensed and certified? True professional piercers are licensed by your state, or by health administrations at the local level. This should be the minimum requirement for any piercer you visit.
  • Do they specialize in the piercing you want? Some piercings, such as genital piercings, require special training and experience. Going to a piercer who’s known for doing the piercing you want can reduce the risk of a painful, botched piercing, or a piercing that doesn’t look the way you want it to.
  • What do their reviews say? Play it safe! Don’t visit a piercer with less than stellar reviews, especially if any customers have complained of long-term pain, infections, or other medical issues after getting their piercings there.

Not all piercings are created equal. Some hurt much more than others, and some may have longer healing times that can be uncomfortable for months.

Still really want that certain piercing but concerned it might be painful? Being prepared can help, as well as a piercer you trust to guide you through the process. This can make all the difference.