The Vertical Clitoral Hood Piercing is by far the most popular genital piercing that I do followed closely behind by Prince Albert Piercings, Horizontal Clitoral Hood Piercings and Fermium Piercings. Often mistakenly called a Clit Piercing or Clit Ring, it in fact does not pierce or puncture the clitoris itself and is in fact through the top apex of the Labia Minora. The Main reason is what the piercing promise which is an increase in sexual pleasure for the piercee and a quick and easy healing rate. Though both of those outcomes are possible there is a great deal more that should be considered before getting the piercing and I hope to cover a great deal of that in this blog.
Since this blog is about a piercing located in the genitals and the fact that it is a sex organ, some might find the information offensive or not age appropriate. For that reason I would ask that if you continue to read that you keep an open mind or go elsewhere. If you are under age, some of the content of this blog may not be appropriate though the whole point of this blog is solely education. I think it is important to state that I will not do this piercing or any other that I would consider a sexual piercing on a minor. Also, I would not suggest getting the piercing underage because often if you find someone willing to do the piercing they not only lack the ethics to be a professional in the first place but often those that are willing to do this piercing on a minor are those with the least amount of experience and training.
If you are considering this piercing or another genital piercing a good place to start would be my blog - Sexual Piercings Why? A guide to Nipple and Genital Piercings. There I cover a majority of the basics and some of the common motivations behind desiring a sexual piercing.
History and Background:
Like a majority of genital piercings most can be traced back to Jim Ward's Gauntlet in the 1970s though there are claims that the piercing dates back to the 19th century. Either way the horizontal piercing was first developed or at least popularized in the 1990s. The Vertical version soon followed in popularity to the point of overcoming the Horizontal in popularity. At it's base the idea behind the piercing is to place the jewelry that it will contact and stimulate the clitoris during sexual activity and thus improve the experience. I will go further into the difference between the two piercing below in the section Vertical Vs. Horizontal but the vertical version was developed to increase this stimulation.
There are a great number of myths involving the piercing including that it will suddenly increasing the woman's libido to the point where they are in a 24 hour day state of arousal, that piercing can cause an orgasm just from walking and that during the piercing most women achieve orgasm. It has been my experience through doing thousands of the piercings, being in relationships with women with the piercing and having friends that have that piercing that these reactions are not the normal but the exception. Most have said that they have had an increase in the level of sexual enjoyment after the piercing was done and healed. However, some have claimed a decrease over time. This can be something as simple as the newness of the piercing wearing off or the increased stimulation and direct contact with the clitoris itself decreasing sensitivity over time.
Why Not Pierce the Clitoris Itself?
The clitoris itself is soft tissue filled with a high concentration of nerves which makes passing a needle through the area not only painful but with a high risk of damaging or severing nerves. The issue is the anatomy of the clitoris glands and the two main branches of the nerves that are located on the top and bottom of the glands. There is a small area between the two that can be pierced through with a reduce likelihood of nerve damage. The fact is that the glands are often too small to fit a pierce of jewelry through this area. The other issue is the Labia Minora and the hood itself. Even if the clitoris itself is large enough and shaped in a way that is safe to pierce, the tightness of the Labia Minora and the Hood may not allow enough room for the jewelry. Lastly even if the piercing is possible the stimulation caused by the piercing maybe so much that it is uncomfortable or even painful.
If you feel you have the anatomy to get the piercing, I don't know how to stress enough that there are only a few people in the world with the experience and expertise to be trusted to do this piercing. It is one of the piercing that if I'm asked to do, I will flat out refuse and suggest the must less risky option of a hood piercing. If I did have a client that would dead set on getting the piercing I would refer them to someone like Elayne Angel, who has the knowledge and experience with the piercing. If you are one of those dead set on the piercing I would suggest you first check out this page on her site and then contact her.
Vertical Vs. Horizontal:
There is a number of things to that should be considered before choosing a Vertical over a Horizontal Hood Piercing.:
- Anatomy - Female genitals tend to come in a great number of varieties of shapes and sizes but at the base they can be divided into two categories, the hill and the valley. The Hill type of anatomy protrudes from the body with less pronounced Labia Majora and this anatomy type is more suited for both vertical and horizontal. While the valley type where the Labia Majora are more pronounce and almost completely cover the genitals are not going to allow the extra room for a horizontal piercing. So, the vertical hood is the best option.
- Goals - If you are seeking increased stimulation of the clitoris than having the jewelry against the clitoris itself will increase stimulation. Depending on the piercee's anatomy this maybe against the top of the clitoral glands that may have little or no contact in the past. This might be too much stimulation or risk a reduction is sensitively over time. With the horizontal the jewelry's bead or ball is in contact with the bottom or exposed part of the clitoris and it may involve trying different size and shaped jewelry to find the jewelry contact that works for you.
- Risks - There is always a risk of loss of sensitivity over time. Now part of this could be over time the "newness" of the stimulation wears off but you need to consider the possibility that having a hard piece of metal rubbing against one of the most sensitive parts of your body could reduce the sensitivity of the clitoris. For more information see the next section.
What is the Clitoral Hood?:
The hood with is often called the preputium clitoridis and clitoral prepuce, is in fact the upper apex of the labia minora. A loose membrane of skin is formed where the two labia minoras attach at the top of the Vulva and covers or partly covers the clitoral glands. This tissue much like the male foreskin covers and protects the sensitive nerve rich glands and shaft of the clitoris from contact with clothing and other contact that would reduce sensitivity over time. Also like the foreskin the hood itself is Mucocutaneous tissues and like the lips, vagina, and anus is nerve rich Erogenous zone. Often the clitoris itself never comes in contact with anything other than the hood even during sexual activity with a majority of the stimulation in fact being with the hood. Some woman find direct contact with the glans clitoris to be to the point of painful. Female Genital Mutation can involve partical or complete removal of the hood in much the same way that Circumcision is done on males. I won't go into the cultural and impact of FGM but it was often down just like Male Circumcision to reduce a child's desire to masturbate or to reduce the sex drive of the person.
As I mentioned above, especially with Vertical Hood Piercing where the jewelry is in complete contact with the usually completely covered sensitive area of the glans clitoris, it can be overwhelming for some women and could result in a reduction of sensitivity over time. The piercing and jewelry is creating contact with the area that nature never intended so there are risks. However, a majority of my clients over the years stated that they have noticed no lost of sensitivity or only a slight reduction once the newness of the piercing wore off. Everyone is different and thus the outcome will always be different from one person to another.
Migration, Anatomy, Marking and Placement:
With female genitals there is often a great deal of difference in anatomy from individual to individual and often when I've shown photos of piercing I've done, they respond with, "but mine doesn't look like that." As i mentioned above there is usually two basic types hills and valleys and both types usually will only effect the difficult the piercer will experience getting to the area.
One major fact is that the hood is loose enough and pronounced enough to pierce safely through and still allow the jewelry to comfortable fit into the space. The hood is like a pocket and it needs to be loose enough to allow a needle receiving tube for the piercing to be done safely and space for the jewelry to sit comfortably. The most common test is the "Q-tip Test". This is where a cotton tipped applicator is placed under the hood to make sure there is enough skin to pierce through and space for the jewelry. The bottom of the hood is usually shaped like an upside down letter V. Once the hood is identified, we remove any loose or excess cotton, dab a small amount of lubricant on the tip and insert it under the hood. If a majority or all of the tip is covered by the hood than it is safe to pierce but if it isn't another piercing should be considered. It is my experience that a majority of women have the anatomy to get the piercing but from time to time there just isn't enough to pierce and not only will the piercing not be placed correctly but will be more prone to migration and rejection. If you are unsure, you can try this test at home before hand.
Jewelry Size and Types:
With Vertical Clitoral Hood Piercings sizing often is pretty standard with the focus more on the shape and size of the piercing area. Since the piercing only passes through a small thin piece of skin, the concern is more about allowing the jewelry to being wide enough or long enough to wrap or extend beyond the bottom of the hood. It goes without saying that the jewelry should be light and be free of anything that get caught on clothing or cause damage to the surrounding area. With genital piercings simple is always the best option.
There are issues that should be considered before choosing jewelry size and type:
- First off you need to consider the size and shape of the hood itself. The jewelry should be curved or circular to fit the curve of the body. You should never pierce the area with a jewelry style that is flat or straight because it will add additional force outward that could cause discomfort, prolonged healing, migration and rejection. The jewelry should be sized so that only a third of a circle is covered by the hood.
- The second consideration is the thickness or gauge of the jewelry itself. The thickness can add the advantage of increasing the resistance against the body migrating or rejecting the piercing or the piercing being ripped or torn if the jewelry is caught on something. However, thicker jewelry will add weight to the piercing which can also increase the risks of problems. I would suggest nothing thinner than 14g and nothing thicker than 12g. Both are thick enough to give us the resistance we need without the weight that may cause issues.
- The third is that the jewelry is not going to cause damage to the surround area or get caught on clothing. The jewelry should be of a very basic design. There should be nothing hanging off the jewelry and there should be no sharp edges or shaped charms. The last thing you want to experience is splitting your hood into two halves by tearing a thick piece of jewelry. This is not only to protect your own sensitive areas but those of your partner.
- Fourth, since the jewelry may come in contact with urine and bodily fluids, plastic, organic materials and synthetic stones may be damaged or erode over time.
- The fifth thing to consider is the weight of the jewelry. Curved Barbells with large balls like the style used with navel piercings will increase the weight of the jewelry and could cause problems such as prolonged healing, rejection and migration.
- Captive Bead or Beaded Ring - A circular ring with a fixed bead or ball or a bead or ball that is held captive by the tension of the ring. For piercing and healing, depending on anatomy, A ring has a number of advantages including that It is lighter than Threaded jewelry, is more secure than threaded jewelry(no worrying about balls coming unscrewed) and is more forgiving if there is swelling and endless room for discharge to collect. Also I've had a number of clients that found the additional movement of the ring more stimulating than the curved barbell.
- Curved Barbells - A curved post that is about a third of a circle with threaded ball or end on each side. Another option is the threadless or pressure ends which I do not suggest wearing in genital piercing. With Vertical Clitoral Hood piercing sthe best option is the most simple design available with matching ball sizes. Curved barbells with a small gem on the top and a larger ball with a gem on the side are not a good option because of the added weight especially during healing. I can't express enough to avoid ends that are large, shaped, have sharp edges or anything that hangs off the jewelry. Even after the piercing has healed "Novelty" style curved barbells can cause a nicely healed piercing to have issues not be worn at all. These were designed for navel piercings and often are produced by lower end manufactures using substandard materials. Large gem settings or other large objects. First off you should consider if it will fit inside your navel at all. A large object that doesn't fit inside your navel will cause outward pressure on the piercing causing it to migrate, reject or have other problems. It doesn't matter if the piercing is fresh or well healed. Here's some styles that should be avoided:
- Shaped charms or settings - Since Implant Grade Steel and Titanium can be very difficult and expensive to mold into shaped objects and polish. So even if the packaging states that the jewelry is made of a body friendly material, they are only talking about the post. These settings and charms are often made of substandard materials and then attached to the post. It is common to find the charms and settings are made of Chrome Plated Plastic, Pot Metal, Silver, Pewter, Bronze, Copper, Cadmium, Chromium and Tin. Some of these materials are toxic and others can lead to reactions, infections or other problems. Understand there are better manufactures like Anatometal that do make shaped objects and settings in Titanium, Implant Grade Steet and Gold but you are not going to find them at the department store or the "Alternative" shop at the mall. Also the price will be higher to reflex the skill and craftsmanship that went into manufacturing the jewelry.
- Dangling Charms - Often the chain and charms are made of substandard or materials that are not body friendly but the real issue is that they act like a boat anchor. Dangles as they are often called will catch on just about everything they come in contact with increasing the risks of damaging the piercing.
- Silver and Sterling jewelry should never be worn in genitals because it can lead to silver poisoning also known as Argyria or argyrosis. Since silver gives off silver salts can be absorbed into the tissue of genitals it can lead to a permanent discoloration of the area. The jewelry should be Implant Grade Stainless Steel, Implant Grade Titanium or 14kt sold gold or better. Though gold is not suggested during healing.
- Circular Barbells - A circular shaped horseshoe with two threaded ends. Can be used during healing and after the piercing is healed with one main concern, weight. Since the ends add additional weight to the jewelry it can increase the risks of migration. Has the advantages and disadvantages of a Captive Bead Ring but with the insecurity of threaded ends.
For more detailed information on what Jewelry to buy go to my blog Post Healing Jewelry Guide
I always do the piercing with Needle Receiving Tube or NRT which is a hallow metal tube that protects the other tissue in the area from the needle and allows a safe way to route the needle through the piercing. Do not be sold this idea that a freehand piercing is going to be less painful. The reality is that the NRT are needed to pull the tissue away from the body, support the tissue and insure the angle of the piercing is correct. With freehand there is a greater risk of the piercing being angled wrong with the piercing deeper on one side than the other or the piercing being crooked. Also the piercing has to be done slower to route the needle and avoid damaging the clitoris glands and other tissue in the area.
- Consultation and paper work.
- Evaluating the piercee's anatomy to insure that the piercing can be done safely and to size the jewelry.
- Disinfecting the piercing area with a surgical scrub
- Marking the piercing
- Reclining the piercee and insert the needle receiving tube under the clitoris hood while insuring that it is lined up and between the hood and clitoris glands.
- Lining up the needle and having the piercee do a deep breathing exercise.
- Injecting the piercing needle through the piercing area
- For safety I will often place a cork on the end of the needle to reduce the risk of a needle stick or damage to the area around the piercing.
- Insert and closing the jewelry
- Stopping any bleeding and cleaning up the piercing area.
Hassles and Aftercare:
Though they heal rather quickly healing in two to three months, during the first couple of weeks they are prone to bleeding, redness and swelling. Bleeding may last off and on for one to five days after the piercing and I suggest wearing a sanitary napkin or pad for the first week. This is not only to avoid staining clothing but cuts down on the amount of moisture and bacteria and adds additional cushioning during the tender period. Unlike other piercing that will throb and ache for some time after the piercing is done, genital piercings tend to not. Though it will be tender to the touch for up to a few weeks.
Basic aftercare will involve hot soaks with warm water and sea salt twice a day and cleaning the piercing in the shower twice daily. Also you will need to take steps to reduce the likelihood of cross contamination. For more details go to Basic Aftercare Instructions. You will also need to urinate after cleaning the piercing to reduce the risks of cleaning causing a bacterial imbalance. Due to the location of the piercing you need to take precautions to avoid abuse including heavy or tight fitting clothing. Everyone reacts difference and of course is shaped different, so experiment with different clothing to find what is comfortable for you. Since sweat tends to collect in the area, it is a good idea to clean the piercing after strenuous activity. If you are wearing panty hose or other clothing that is tight or covers the piercing, either roll them down below the piercing, cut out a whole for the piercing or wear a hard plastic vented eye patch over the piercing. This can also be helpful during sporting activities to avoid trauma to the piercing.
The biggest or most often question is "When can I have Sex?" the answer is when it is comfortable and should be gentle and avoid abuse to the piercing until it is healed completely. A latex layer should be used during sexual contact for at least 6 months to avoid infection. If you use any lubrications they must be water based. it is also a good idea to clean the piercing after sexual activity. Understand since the piercing is scar tissue and the unforgiving strength of metal, you are more prone to tears during sexual activities and thus more a risks to contract STDs even after the piercing is healed and will need to take precautions.
It is important to avoid stress and abuse to the piercing during healing and after. Also avoid clothing and sport safety equipment like chest protectors and other heavy items that are tight in the piercing area. If you are required to wearing safety equipment for a job or sport that is tight fitting in the area, you may want to consider a different piercing.
Pregnancy shouldn't effect the piercing but your doctor, midwife or medical provider may require you to remove the jewelry during birth. This more over concerns of how the metal in the jewelry may react if they have to preform a medical procedure on you. For example using a refibrillator. Otherwise the piercing shouldn't be effected.
Since we are piercing genitals there will be pain but it is slight and often fades immediately unlike other piercings that may throb or ache for up to an hour afterwards. Many find the Needle Receiving Tube the most uncomfortable part of the whole piercing procedures. Some female clients have stated that their Vertical Clitoral Hood piercing was less painful then their upper Ear Cartilage piercing.
Risks & Concerns:
As with any piercing the greatest risk is infection. However since the area is very blood rich infection are extremely rare.
Due to the location of the piercing and if you are sexually active, changing positions and activities may needed to be taken to avoid contact between the piercing and your partner. Make sure that they are aware of the piercing and understand that no part of their body can come in contact with the piercing. Also as I mentioned above a latex barrier should be used during any sexual contact for the first six mouths.
I think I've covered this risk pretty well but there is always a risk that the stimulation the jewelry causes can lead to a reduction in the sensitivity of the the clitoris.
Often even a long abandoned hood piercing will stay open for a number of years and even in most cases will never close. Though this shouldn't pose a risk to the person's health they should know the piercing will alter their body.
The Vertical Clitoral Hood piercing can offer the wearing an increase in the sexual enjoyment that can last a lifetime. The piercing itself is mildly painful and quick and with a little amount of care heals very quickly. There is also the advantage that it is a person that you can keep private and only share with those you wish to. Which makes it ideal for those working in industries that frown on visitable piercings. There is also the marking of ownership over your body that the piercing experience can provide and let's face it it's about customizing your body and improving your enjoyment of your own body.
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