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Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013

Are Penis Piercings Safe?

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Can you have a straight barbell go through the top and the bottom of the tip of the penis? If you can, is it safe, and does it increase sexual pleasure for both partners or just the girl’s pleasure?

Yes, it is possible to pierce the head or glans of the penis from top to bottom and insert a straight barbell. This type of piercing is commonly called an apadravya (note that this link includes pictures of penises with this piercing that can be considered NSFW).

All piercings contain some degree of risk—infection, irritation, or the body rejecting the piercing (which means that the jewelry in the piercing gradually migrates closer to the skin’s surface and may eventually fall out). This is true no matter what part of the body is pierced. You can minimize these risks by choosing a qualified, experienced piercing professional who maintains a safe and sterile work environment and by practicing good piercing aftercare. More information about professional piercing standards and aftercare are available on the Association of Professional Piercers website.

With apadravya piercings, additional risks include pain and bleeding during and immediately after the piercing procedure, as well as a long healing period (up to a year in some cases). Everyone experiences pain differently, but apadravya piercings are reportedly one of the most painful penile genital piercings. In addition, piercings that pass through the urethra (which the apadravya usually does) can permanently affect urination, creating a spray, dribble or two-stream flow. Some people find that it’s easier to sit down while urinating after getting a piercing through the urethra.

While the piercing is healing, condoms MUST be worn during sex, even if you are in a monogamous or fluid-bonded relationship. It’s also advisable to rinse the piercing with water or saline solution after sex, every time. If you are not prepared to follow these aftercare guidelines (or if intense pain and blood are not your thing), then do not get an apadravya piercing.

If you have not been scared off by the painful, high-maintenance nature of this piercing, then yes, it may be very pleasurable both for the person who has the piercing and a female partner. The emphasis here is on “may be”; everyone’s body is different, so there’s no guarantee that either the person getting the piercing or that person’s partner will enjoy it during sex. For the person with the piercing, it may rub and slide against the frenulum (sensitive spot on the underside of the head or glans of the penis) and the urethra during sex, which can feel very nice. For a female partner, the jewelry in the piercing can be rubbed against the clitoris or the G-spot during sex.

A couple of years ago, I interviewed a piercing professional about the risks and benefits of the more common and less painful Prince Albert piercing, which you can read here. Genital piercings can be beautiful and pleasurable, but you must be prepared to care for them properly—the most common reason for infections, irritation or other problems is improper aftercare. They’re not something to be entered into lightly. If you and your partner can commit to safer sex barriers and aftercare for up to a year after you get the piercing, then an apadravya can be both safe and fun. 

Laura Anne Stuart owns the
Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee’s East Side. She has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than fifteen years. Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.
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