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The Prince Albert piercing one of the most common penis piercings.

It’s done by inserting a barbell or other jewelry through the hole where pee comes (urethra), and out of the underside behind the head (glans).

There are two other popular types:

  • Reverse PA: goes through the urethra and out of the top of the shaft, behind the head instead of underneath
  • Deep shaft reverse PA: comes out of the top of the shaft much farther down, far away from the head

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Illustration by Brittany England

For your benefit

Glans or shaft piercings like the PA move around and graze penile tissue when you masturbate or during oral, anal, or genital sex. This can stimulate more nerves and make you feel more pleasure.

The PA wand can be used for sounding having your partner put jewelry in their mouth and hum. This vibrates your entire penis and can feel intensely pleasurable.

For your partner’s benefit

Any type of PA can stimulate more of your partner’s vaginal or anal nerves during sex.

The reverse PA is more suited to stimulate the clitoris and increase your partner’s pleasure.

Anyone with a penis may be able to get a PA piercing.

The foreskin can be pulled back for this piercing. But jewelry can rub against the foreskin when you’re not erect, causing discomfort.

You may need to relearn how to pee to avoid spraying urine through new urethra openings. Try directing the hole downward or covering the hole.

Piercings on the glans or shaft can also pierce through condoms, so exercise caution.

PA piercings have no effect on your fertility.

Jewelry commonly used in a PA piercing includes:

  • Circular barbell: horseshoe-shape with removable beads on both ends
  • Captive bead ring: circular ring with a bead where the ends meet
  • Straight barbell: rod-shape with removable beads on both ends
  • Bent barbell: similar to a straight barbell, but with a slight curve from end to end
  • PA wand: long and straight with a semi-cross shape at the end, meant to be inserted into the urethra with beads on the outside at the urethral opening and the top of the shaft. This is a type of “play” jewelry used for sounding. It isn’t ideal for new piercings, but you can work up to it.

Your piercer will likely suggest the following materials:

  • Surgical titanium: less likely to cause allergic reactions or irritation in sensitive skin
  • Biocompatible polymers (plastics): strong, sturdy, and flexible, and good for first-time piercings
  • Niobium: hypoallergenic material and more resilient to wear and tear than other metals
  • Gold: stick with 14-karat yellow or white gold to avoid infections during healing; don’t use gold-plated jewelry, which can cause infections and allergic reactions
  • Platinum: the strongest and sturdiest option, but much more costly and difficult to obtain

A typical PA piercing may cost anywhere from $50 to up to several hundred at high-end, reputable shops with expensive jewelry.

Here’s a typical cost breakdown:

  • Service: as low as $40 or well into the $100s due to the complexity and delicacy of this piercing
  • Jewelry: as low as $15 for basic steel or titanium to hundreds or more for platinum, diamond, or gold
  • Piercer tip: at least 20 percent or more for high-quality service

You don’t need to be erect to get this piercing.

Your piercer will:

  1. Put on clean gloves, then wash and sterilize the area to be pierced.
  2. Use a marker to label the areas where the needle will go in and out of your skin.
  3. Insert the needle through the entry opening and out of the exit opening. They’ll likely to tell you to slowly inhale and exhale when they insert the needle.
  4. Gently grip the skin with forceps to keep the skin steady while they put in the jewelry.
  5. Rinse, sterilize, and bandage the pierced area.

All piercings carry the possibility of pain.

A PA piercing may be more painful than other common piercings, such as a lip or earlobe piercing, because the penis has more nerve endings.

Inserting a bigger, more complex piece of jewelry like a PA wand can increase the potential for discomfort.

The pain you feel also depends largely on your tolerance for pain.

The actual piercing procedure lasts mere seconds, so taking a deep breath, gripping something tightly, or thinking about something else may take your mind off the pain.

Your penis is dense with nerves and delicate tissue.

If your piercing isn’t correctly performed or properly taken care of, it may increase your risk of harmful or dangerous complications.

Discuss these possible risks with your piercer:

Injuring your partner’s tissues while having sex. Jewelry can rub, chafe, or injure sensitive areas on your partner’s genitals, anus, or mouth during sex. Rarely, jewelry can become hooked to your partner’s genital, anal, or facial jewelry. This can be painful or difficult to undo without medical help.

Increased risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Genital piercings have been linked to a higher risk of transmitting blood-borne STIs, especially since PA jewelry is more likely to break a condom.

Penile tissue damage. Jewelry that sticks out can rub against and wear away penis tissue. This can result in calloused areas that reduce sensation.

Infection at the piercing site. Bacteria can be passed from unwashed hands or during sex. An opening in your penis tissues can allow bacteria to enter, build up, and become infectious.

Urinary tract infection. Bacteria can enter your urinary tract through the urethra or openings for the piercing. This can increase your risk of UTIs.

Rejection. Your penis may develop more — and often thicker — tissue if it perceives the piercing as a foreign object. This can displace the jewelry.

A PA piercing heals relatively fast — about 2 to 4 weeks.

Your piercing may heal slower if you don’t follow proper aftercare instructions.

A little pain and swelling are normal during the first few weeks and will become less noticeable as your piercing heals.

See your piercer or doctor if you experience these symptoms alongside:

  • yellowish or greenish pus
  • skin that feels hot when you touch it
  • fever

Good aftercare is key to a successful piercing.

While you’re healing, do:

  • Keep the area covered with a bandage. Change the bandage at least once daily.
  • Cover any new holes connected to the urethra so that pee doesn’t come out and irritate healing tissue.
  • Use warm water and soap to wash your hands before each time you touch the area.
  • Rinse the pierced area about twice daily with distilled water and saline solution.
  • Wash and rinse any crust that appears on the area.
  • Use a clean paper towel to gently pat dry whenever you rinse your piercing.
  • Shield the penis from water during showers.
  • Carefully put on and remove clothes, especially underwear or pants.
  • Wear condoms during sexual activity until your piercing’s healed.

Also, don’t:

  • Handle your piercing with unwashed hands.
  • Masturbate or engage in oral, genital, or anal sex until swelling and pain from getting the piercing has subsided.
  • Put on tight clothes or underwear.
  • Rinse the pierced area with alcohol-based liquids.
  • Apply strong or antiseptic soaps or other fluids to the pierced area.
  • Immerse yourself in a bath or a pool.
  • Engage in vigorous or athletic activities that can jostle the penis around or increase your risk of injuring it.
  • Take the jewelry out or interfere with it until the area’s fully healed after about 2 to 3 months.
  • Allow your pubic hair to get caught or tangled in the jewelry.

Light pain and swelling are typical for any piercing. But some symptoms are more serious.

See your piercer if you notice any of the follow symptoms of infection or rejection:

  • redness beyond the pierced area
  • severe swelling
  • severe pain
  • greenish or yellowish discharge
  • bad smell

Rejection can also cause:

  • displaced jewelry
  • dangling or sagging jewelry
  • complete jewelry dislodgment

Non-traditional piercings can push jewelry out as skin and tissues grow back.

How long this takes differs for everyone — your overall health, penile tissues, and aftercare make a big difference.

Your piercing could last anywhere from a few months to a year or longer.

Don’t change your jewelry until the piercing has fully healed.

Not sure if it’s healed? Ask your piercer, or request that they change the jewelry for you.

If your piercer gives you the go-ahead to change it yourself, you should:

  1. Wash your hands with warm water and antibacterial soap.
  2. Rinse the piercing area with a saline solution.
  3. Carefully take any beads off the jewelry you’re wearing.
  4. Slowly take the jewelry out of the hole.
  5. Take any beads off your replacement jewelry.
  6. Slowly and carefully push the replacement jewelry through the hole.
  7. Replace the beads you took off the jewelry.
  8. Secure the jewelry so that it doesn’t move around or fall out.
  9. Rinse the area again with saline solution and gently pat dry.

Don’t remove jewelry until your piercing is fully healed.

This prevents bacteria from getting trapped inside the hole and potentially causing an infection.

Still healing, but don’t want to wait? Talk to your piercer to find out if it’s OK to remove the jewelry now.

After it’s out, follow your piercer’s cleaning guidelines until the tissues are completely healed.

If you don’t, you may damage your penis tissue or develop an infection.

Already healed? Then remove the jewelry and let the hole seal itself. That’s all you need to do.

Be sure to do your research to ensure that your piercing’s done by a professional at a shop with good reviews and a reputation for safety.

An experienced piercer can also give you tips on placement, risks, aftercare, and possible complications.

Talk to your doctor if you’re not sure if your penis will take to a piercing. They can identify any underlying conditions or anatomical limitations that could interfere with a penis piercing.

You may find that your body or skin type isn’t compatible with a PA piercing, and that’s OK. Your piercer may be able to suggest a different type that’s more comfortable and that you may like even better.