Piercing (usually facial) has been practiced for centuries by numerous different cultural groups. There has been a recent increase in Western society in genital and nipple piercing as well as more widespread facial piercing. Piercing is often carried out to enhance appearance, but is also used as a way of enhancing sexual stimulation.

Those undergoing piercing of any sort should be aware that problems sometimes arise. Infection and failure to heal are relatively common problems. Navel piercing seems particularly prone to this because of movement and rubbing of the skin against clothing. Poor positioning and jewellery that is made of thin metal increase the likelihood of a ring cutting through skin. In case of an infection try cleaning with an antiseptic solution such as chlorhexidine gluconate 4% and consider changing to better jewellery. You may need to see your medical advisor for advice and possible antibiotic treatment, occasionally you may need to have a piece of jewellery removed to allow proper healing.

Nipple piercing may cause damage to the milk ducts and possibly affect breast feeding, it is probably advisable to remove jewellery during breast feeding.

Piercing the male urethra (which runs inside the penis) may affect the direction and flow of urine, it may be easier to sit down to pass urine. Bleeding may occur with an erection shortly after piercing and it is probably better to avoid sex for at least a week after piercing.

Allergies to metal jewellery can develop over a period of time nickel is particularly a problem, if you do become allergic to your jewellery it will have to be removed or replaced.
v Finally enjoy your piercing, but be aware of the possible pitfalls use a reputable piercer and let them know if you have problems.

Further information

This article published on
04 December 2005

Next review date 12/1/2013


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