Have you ever heard of the joke about ‘putting your penis on a leash?’ The funny thing is that nowadays, with the appropriate penile piercing you actually could. How’s that for a conversation starter?
Body piercing has been around for thousands of years. It is a tradition that is thought to have started with the ancient Egyptians at least 4000 years ago, but can also be traced to cultures on many other continents including ancient Europe, South and North America, Indo-Asia, and the South Pacific.
Historically piercings were performed for ritual purposes and as social status markers, but even centuries ago they were also used as fashionable body decoration. But there were other uses as well. The ancient Romans were believed to pierce the genitals of their slave gladiators to control when they had sex. In the Hindu traditions in India various piercings were suggested to improve sexual pleasure or to improve performance.
In more recent times, Royalty in Western countries reportedly used piercings combined with a chain to keep the penis from causing an unsightly bulge in the trousers, another nod to fashion with an obvious side benefit.
Over the past three decades, penis piercing has again emerged as a fringe form of self-expression and sexual enhancement. No longer exclusive to a given social class, many modern cultures now use piercings freely, and they can be found in many countries worldwide. In this article we will help explain some of the basics and outline some of the risks and benefits of penis piercing.
Types of Piercings
There are a number of different styles of penis piercing in common use. Variations exist, but the limits are really limited only by your own desires, experience, and the experience of the piercer you work with. Here are some of the more common types:
The Prince Albert
This is the clear winner in the popularity contest for penile piercings. Very popular for its sexual appeal, this piercing starts at the bottom of the head of the penis, near the tip, and runs up into the urethra and out the penis hole. Jewelry passes through the opening of the urethra and then down through the piercing hole. Urination is slightly modified as there are now two holes, but with practice, many men report this is not a big problem. Healing is not a problem as urine is sterile, and will not (on its own) cause an infection if the wound is kept clean otherwise. Aftercare involves sexual abstinence for at least two weeks, and total healing time takes from 3 to 4 months, during which a condom is recommended for all sexual contact - including oral sex (the mouth actually has enough bacteria to pose a slight threat of infection).
This is probably the second most popular piercing for the penis. The hole is made through the flap or ‘web’ of skin on the underside of the head of the penis where it joins the shaft. Alternately this piercing can also include several holes down the length of the shaft on the bottom side, known as the Frenum Ladder. This piercing is fast-healing and has a low rate of complications, which helps with its popularity. Aftercare means at least a week of abstinence, but considerably more for the ladder, and at least 2 to 3 months for total healing, during which a condom should always be used.
Much like the Frenum, the Lorum is found on the bottom of the penis, but at the base of the shaft where it meets the body, near the scrotal sack. Other than this, it is very similar. Aftercare and healing is as for the Frenum also, with 2 to 3 months to complete healing. This piercing can cause some discomfort when sitting while it is still fresh, so avoiding activities like bike riding is advised until fully healed.
This is a fairly safe penile piercing, and is arguably one of the more fun. Healing time is often fast and risk of complications is minimal. It is possible to have several of these inserted, allowing for more intricate and customized jewelry (but also more expensive). The penis must be uncircumcised for this type of piercing. Historically this was said to be a form of male chastity. Aftercare includes abstinence for at least a week, no rough sex, and use of a condom for up to 3 months afterwards.
"Dydoes" are piercings on the head of the penis, generally done in pairs, which go through the coronal ridge of the penis (around the ‘rim’ of the penis head). They can be done individually but are more often found in pairs, usually on both sides of the penis. This piercing is for circumcised males only. This is most often practiced by men who feel it will increase sensation to the head of the penis, lost due to circumcision. Aftercare is the same as for foreskin piercings, but takes up to 6 months to fully heal.
This piercing was originally found in the South Pacific, and sometimes involved jewelry that dangled down between the legs. As the name suggests, it pierces the skin found between the anus and scrotum, some say in order to stimulate the prostate. In modern use it is possibly one of the least favorite, mostly because of the difficulties in healing and high tendency for complications. Sitting is difficult for the first several weeks, and because it is covered by clothing, healing is slow. Jewelry selected is usually a ring, but even this can make sitting difficult for long periods of time. Aftercare includes no sex for at least two weeks, and 5 to 6 months of healing time.
This is a rarer piercing which involves putting a horizontal hole through the penis head (glans), like a barbell that rests parallel to the floor. It is also an advanced piercing, best left only to highly experienced professionals, as it moves through a lot of tissue and must be made carefully so not to damage any important nerves or veins. After this piercing there should be no sex for at least 2 to 3 weeks, and aftercare lasts about 6 months to a year while the piercing totally heals. Not a piercing for the beginner!
This is another piercing that goes fully through the penis head (the glans). This piercing, however, transects the penis head at 90 degrees from the Ampallang. Imagine a man standing against a table with his penis laid out horizontally on it. The hole would go from top to bottom of the penis head, pointing at the ceiling and floor. This is also a potentially very dangerous piercing, best done by highly experienced piercers because a mistake could land the receiver in hospital with severe bleeding. Aftercare and healing times are similar to the Ampallang. Again not a piercing for first timers!
This piercing is another more advanced operation, and it may be difficult to locate an experienced piercer. It involves placing rings or disks underneath the skin on the shaft of the penis. At the time of this writing, no firm data could be found on the length of time for full healing, but one piercer suggested it may take 3 to 4 months. This piercing is not recommended because of the need to actually leave the jewelry inside the body.
While not strictly a penile piercing, adding jewelry to the scrotal sack is also again becoming popular. It was at one time used by French soldiers as a right of passage into manhood. One of the difficulties with this piercing is that if the scrotal sack is fully penetrated a dangerous infection could result. On the plus side, jewelry can be quite elaborate, and with more than one of these, the display could be quite extravagant. While a ‘low pain’ place for a piercing, this is not for beginners, and should definitely be handled by an experienced expert. Aftercare and healing times are much the same as with the Kandoekoe above, with 3 to 4 months for full healing to take place.
Where, Who, and How-to...
If you’ve decided that you are going through with it and get a penis piercing, here are some tips to go forward, including where to get pierced, by whom, and what to expect afterward.
You should realize that this is an act of surgery, i.e. you are putting a deep hole in your skin. You must have respect for the process, and for your body! Start by researching professional piercing parlors in your area. Talk with other pierced people (if you know any) in your area about where they got their work done. Take time in your investigations, as you want the best results with the least risk possible.
Things to look out for, and be aware of, include:
At the Piercers
Shop cleanliness … a clean shop is a sign that the piercers respect the fact that this is basically surgery.
Professional locations will disinfect their equipment with an autoclave (high temperature, high pressure – just ask), and use surgical steel tools.
All ‘sharps’ (needles, etc.) should be single use only, disposed of after every piercing in a safe manner (i.e. in a biohazard box).
Latex gloves should be worn by the piercer at all times during the procedure (washing their hands before and after as well).
Each professional should have done many penile piercings before, and have years of experience with other types of piercings as well.
Don’t go with any operation that uses an ear gun for anything but earlobes; this is a clear health and safety mistake.
Make sure your jewelry is high quality, and made of surgical steel (the most common), 18 carat gold, platinum or titanium, as many other alloys (nickel and brass) can cause skin allergies.
If anything is in doubt, simply thank them for their time and find another location. Give your business to those who will give you the best possible service, and the safest results.
Aftercare is very important.
Once you have a fresh penile piercing you need to:
Keep it very clean with regular disinfection until it FULLY heals. Use of harsh chemicals like alcohol and petroleum products like bacteracin will likely CAUSE infection on the soft skin of the penis, so DON’T USE THEM! Instead use sterile saline solution to rinse the area at least twice per day. Many physicians agree with this practice, and if you have any questions, ask your own doctor for his or her personal advice.
Not have sex until sufficient healing has occurred; your piercer should advise - and you will probably sense it.
Use strong, large condoms (large enough to also cover the jewelry) for at least the first month or two after the piercing, until it is again safe to have unprotected sex. Don’t have unprotected sex too early, keep your member healthy and safe! Infections are no fun, and can occasionally become dangerous to your general health. Play by the rules and you’re a lot better off! This may seem like a tough restriction, but think of the risks of infection and complications on your penis as a motivator; it’s worth the wait.
Avoid playing with the jewelry, as every time it is moved more bacteria will be forced into the hole from outside, increasing risk of infection and further slowing healing.
Risks and Benefits
So with all this need to be careful, why do it at all? Some desire it to change or add something to their sex lives. Others like it for the ‘show’ or perceived performance element. Many claim to have improved physical stimulation - in many cases for both partners. Also, the whole act has a certain mystique to it, adding mental stimulation. If it had no effect at all, it probably wouldn’t be as popular as it is.
There are certain risks involved, as we have alluded to earlier in this article. Here we outline the basics:
Sometimes people find a rash in the area around their new piercing in the following days. This could mean a mild allergic reaction to cheaper metal in the jewelry (see above).
Redness and soreness around a new piercing is normal, but if it persists, consult your physician right away. Caught early, actual infections usually pose no major threat, but get on it. This may show up as a burning or itching sensation, during urination or at other times. More serious viral infections such as Hepatitis B and C, even HIV have occurred when using the services of non-professionals. The biggest culprit is the re-use of needles. Take no chances.
Bleeding and scarring
Small amounts of bleeding are easily stopped by application of direct pressure, but don’t take matters into your own hands if the bleeding persists for more than a minute or two. Again our advice is to see your health professional.
Keloid scarring is a special type of scarring where the scar tissue spreads beyond the original site of injury, or in this case, the piercing. It is most common in certain ethnic groups including Hispanics, Africans, and Asian decent.
You have only one body, so it is important to make the right decisions about how to enjoy it. The important thing is to have fun with it while still being safe. We hope this article has helped to inform.
Other Types of Alteration
Penis Piercing is only one of a number of Body Alteration alternatives; others include Breast Enlargement (including for men!) and a range of piercings, such as Tongue, Nipple and (for women) Clitoral/Labial.
If you have any comments about this article, or would like to share your personal experiences, please post below!