Both men and women have more than 50 different types of piercings from which they can choose, and some piercings offer almost limitless placement options. The ear alone can accommodate 13 different styles of piercings, and sometimes multiples of each style (ex. earlobe piercings and helix piercings). There are also 6 different nose piercing options, 13 different types of lip piercings, and 4 oral piercing options, as well as cheek piercings, eyebrow piercings, surface piercings, dermal piercings, web piercings, belly button piercings, and a variety of genital piercings you can get.
With so many options available to you, it may be tough to decide where to start or which piercing to get next. If you're at a loss and looking for ideas, contemplate the most popular piercings for men and women first. Since earlobe piercings top the charts for men and women alike, with an estimated 83% of Americans having had their earlobes pierced at least once, we'll start the lists with the second most popular options for men and women.
Most Popular Piercings for Women
Based on the most current piercing stats, Statisticbrain.com estimates that 72% of all Americans who have at least one body piercing are women. According to them, the 8 most popular piercings for women to get (beyond earlobe piercings) include belly button piercings, nose piercings, ear cartilage piercings, tongue piercings, nipple piercings, eyebrow piercings, lip piercings, and genital piercings, in that order.
Belly Button Piercings
Belly button piercings are by far the most popular type of piercing for women, with an estimated 33% of pierced women having at least one belly button piercing. (Yes, there's more than one belly button piercing placement option!) The craze started with the release of Aerosmith's music video Cryin', which won MTV's Music Video of the Year Award in 1993 and featured Alicia Silverstone sporting a pierced navel. That same year, supermodel Christy Turlington showed off her own pierced navel on the runway at a London fashion show, and somewhere between those two moments, body piercing as a whole became a mainstream trend. Innumerable women have adopted belly button piercings as symbols of their femininity and sexuality in the years since. If you're one of those women or plan to be one soon, you can choose from more than 1,300 stunning belly button rings on PainfulPleasures.com alone!
Nose piercings are the second most popular type of piercing for women, with 19% of pierced women having at least one nose piercing. Nostril piercings tend to be more popular among women, whereas septum piercings are a more popular nose piercing for men. Those aren't your only nose piercing options, though. You can also get a bridge piercing, rhino piercing, high nostril piercing, and/or nasallang piercing. (Learn more about each style of nose piercing in our Nose Piercing FAQs article.)
Nose piercings have a rich history that predates Bible times. In India, it's more common for women to have their left nostrils pierced because that spot is associated with the female reproductive organs in Indian medicine, but there's no "right" side of the nostril to have pierced; women around the world have their left, right or both nostrils pierced. Some nostril piercings are connected to the ear via a chain and others are adorned with hoops of varying sizes, but nose studs (typically either nostril screws or nose bones) are the most popular style of nostril piercing jewelry. Straight barbells are most often used for nasallang and rhino piercings, and straight or bent barbells tend to work best for bridge piercings.
Ear Cartilage Piercings
According to current statistics, ear cartilage piercings are the third most popular type of piercing for men and women alike. 13% of pierced women are estimated to have ear piercings other than earlobe piercings. There are 12 different types of upper ear piercings from which to choose, ranging from helix piercings to daith piercings and beyond. (Learn about all the different types of ear piercings here.)
The high popularity of ear piercings as a whole may have to do with the fact that they're one of the few types of visible piercings that are deemed acceptable in the business world, at least in moderation. They also accommodate more jewelry styles than most other body piercings, offering people more creative freedom with their jewelry choices. You can wear captive rings (which include captive bead rings, segment rings, seamless rings, and more) in ear piercings as well as stud earrings, spiral cartilage rings, cartilage cuffs, circular barbells, labret studs, bent barbells, plugs and tunnels, and more.
Approximately 9.5% of pierced female Americans have tongue piercings, making this the fourth most popular type of piercing among women. As with belly button rings, many women look at tongue rings as a symbol of their sexuality. (BTW, tongue rings are actually straight barbells that may have a larger top ball or other decorative top.) They can be loads of fun when kissing, during oral sex, and even when you're by yourself. Have you ever seen someone with a pierced tongue rolling the bottom ball back and forth across their lips? It's impossible not to play with a tongue ring constantly when you have one, but you should definitely hold out until yours is fully healed if you get one.
Nipple piercings are the fifth most popular piercing type for women, but only by a smidge. An estimated 9% of pierced women have their nipples pierced, putting them a mere half a percent behind tongue piercings in popularity. The history of nipple piercing may have begun with Roman Centurions, but it's more likely the trend started among women in the 17th and 18th centuries. During that time, women wore such ridiculously-low necklines and shear tops that their breasts were often exposed, and many women took to adorning their nipples with everything from rouge to diamond studs to nipple caps. Nipple piercings have waxed and waned in popularity in the years since, but Janet Jackson's nip slip during the 2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show seems to have been the spark for the most recent surge in nipple piercing popularity.
You have quite a few options when it comes to nipple piercing jewelry. Straight barbells or bent barbells tend to be the best styles of jewelry to wear during the nipple piercing healing process, because they put the least amount of downward pressure on healing fistulas (piercing holes). Once your nipple piercings are fully healed, which may take up to 12 months or more, you can also choose from captive rings, nipple shields, dangle nipple rings, and other styles of nipple piercing jewelry. If you like the idea of nipple rings but don't want to endure the pain or lengthy healing process that may come with getting your nipples pierced, you can adorn your nipples with fake nipple rings or non-piercing nipple shields instead.
Approximately 8% of female Americans with piercings have their eyebrows pierced, making eyebrow piercings the sixth most popular piercing type for women. Eyebrow piercings are surface piercings, which means they're more prone to migration and rejection than piercings like earlobe and nipple piercings, which completely penetrate the body part being pierced. Before getting an eyebrow piercing, you should make sure it won't be a problem where you work. Also, ask your piercer to use the heaviest-gauge needle and eyebrow ring that will look attractive on you and to pierce you as deeply as possible to minimize the chances of your jewelry migrating its way out.
Micro bent barbells with jeweled ends are the most popular style of jewelry for women to wear in eyebrow piercings, but you can opt for a hoop instead, if desired. Choose from smaller-diameter segment rings, seamless rings and other styles of captive rings.
Approximately 4% of pierced female Americans have at least one lip piercing, making lip piercings the seventh most popular type of piercing for women. There are two basic types of lip piercings (vertical or horizontal), but more than 13 different common positions/combinations from which to choose. Monroe piercings are one of the more popular lip piercing options among women. They're also called Monroe or Crawford piercings, because of the way they mimic all three stars' upper lip moles. Single horizontal lip piercings placed off to either side of the lower lip and labret piercings placed centrally below the lower lip are also popular choices for women who get lip piercings. You could also consider one of the different types of "bites", like angel bites, which are placed to the left and right of the philtrum.
The type of lip piercing you get will determine what style of jewelry you should wear. Upper lip piercings are typically done with labret studs, with BioPlast labrets being preferable because they're soft, flexible and less damaging to the gums and teeth. Labrets can also be used for lower lip piercings, as can captive rings. Alternatively, you could wear a lip loop labret, which combines the look of a labret stud with a loop that curls up and over your bottom lip. If you get a vertical labret piercing, you'll be mostly limited to mini straight barbells, but they come with tons of unique end options like jeweled tops, colorful acrylic ends and more.
Female Genital Piercings
Female genital piercings are the eighth most popular type of piercing for women, but they're growing in popularity daily as more and more women discover how sexually-stimulating they can be. At least 2% of female Americans with piercings have one or more genital piercings. If you're interested in getting one, the top two choices are horizontal and vertical clitoral hood piercings, but you can also get your inner or outer labia pierced or choose from one of the less common but equally amazing options, like Princess Diana piercings and fourchette piercings. If you'd like to learn more about your female genital piercing options and the different styles of jewelry that work best in each, check out our Female Piercing Options article.
Most Popular Piercings for Men
According to Statisticbrain.com, men's priorities are a little different than women's when it comes to body piercings. The most popular piercings for men include nipple piercings, eyebrow piercings, ear cartilage piercings, tongue piercings, nose piercings, lip piercings, and genital piercings, in that order.
Nipple Piercings for Men
Statistics show that at least 18% of pierced men have nipple piercings, making them the number one type of piercing for men. That makes nipple piercings twice as popular among men as women. There are at least three good reasons for this trend, if not more. (1) It isn't taboo for men to walk around shirtless in public like it is for women (outside of nudist communities anyway), which means they can show off their nipple piercings more than women can. (2) The nipples are one of the few erogenous zones on a man's body that can be more physically aroused when manipulated if pierced. Genital piercings can be a mental turn-on for men, but they're more likely to physically stimulate female partners rather than provide men with physical arousal the way nipple piercings can. (3) Women are more likely to be deterred from getting nipple piercings than men because of concerns regarding breast feeding and additional tenderness of the breasts during menstruation.
All the same types of nipple rings are available to men and women, but men are more likely to get straight or circular barbells with spikes on the ends or captive rings that can be easily manipulated once their nipple piercings are fully healed. Some men (and women) also like to attach small weights to their healed nipple rings via S-hooks for added sexual stimulation.
An estimated 17.5% of American men have eyebrow piercings, making them the second most popular piercing among men by just half a percentage point. As with nipple piercings, men are twice as likely as women to get eyebrow piercings. Interestingly, men are 4+ times more likely than women to have visible piercings in general (other than earlobe piercings), so it isn't surprising that eyebrow piercings are so popular with men, considering they're one of the most eye-catching piercings a person can get.
As with other types of body jewelry, men tend to opt for more masculine-looking eyebrow rings--rings featuring spikes, skulls, dice, or other jewelry with a tougher look to it. Circular barbells and hoops ranging from captive bead rings to seamless rings are also popular styles of eyebrow rings for men.
Ear Cartilage Piercings
Cartilage piercings are the third most popular type of piercing for men and women alike, but they're slightly more popular among men than women. An estimated 17% of pierced American men have at least one cartilage piercing compared to 13% of women. Industrial piercings, helix piercings, rook piercings, and conch piercings tend to be some of the more popular ear cartilage piercing options for men. Men are also slightly more likely than women to stretch their earlobes and opt for larger cartilage piercings like punched conch piercings.
If you're looking for ear cartilage jewelry with a more masculine look, consider options like these:
An estimated 16% of pierced American men have tongue piercings, making them the fourth most popular piercing type for men. Men are just shy of twice as likely as women to get tongue piercings. Maybe that's because the tongue is another erogenous zone that men can get added physical stimulation from when pierced, or maybe it's the idea of being able to please partners more sexually that makes tongue piercings such an enticement for men. It could be that they're just plain cool. Whatever's motivating you to consider getting a tongue ring, you're sure to enjoy it. If you want to use your tongue ring to give your partner an extra charge once it's healed, check out our vibrating tongue rings and tongue ring accessories like our Tongue Vine.
With 15% of pierced American men having nose piercings, they take fifth place by a single percentage point. Like eyebrow rings, nose piercings are some of the most highly visible types of piercings you can get--an aspect of piercings that men tend to crave more than women. While women are more likely to get nostril piercings adorned with delicate studs than other types of nose piercings, men are much more likely to get masculine-looking septum piercings or even rhino or nasallang piercings. There are plenty of men who sport nostril piercings, too, though.
There are a lot of masculine-looking nose rings you can choose from no matter what type of nose piercing you get. Septum tusks, pinchers and other tribal-inspired styles are favorites among men with septum piercings, as are circular barbells and bull-ring style captive bead rings. When it comes to nostril piercing jewelry, men are much more likely to choose heavier-gauge nose hoops like segment and seamless rings or spiked nose studs than women.
Lip piercings are the sixth most popular style of body piercing for men, with 13% of pierced men reporting having had a lip piercing at some point. Standard labret piercings adorned with labret studs or lip loops and vertical labret piercings outfitted with micro straight barbells are two of the most popular types of lip piercings among men. Horizontal lower lip piercings are also popular, as are certain types of bites, like canine bites (a.k.a. shark bites) that are placed in a 4-point square above the upper lip and below the lower lip, or snake bites that are just on either side of the lower lip. Labret studs, hoops or circular barbells may be worn in lower bite piercings, but typically upper-lip bites are done exclusively with labret studs. BioPlast labret studs are the most ideal lip piercing jewelry, because their soft, flexible backs are less likely to cause gum recession or crack a tooth if you chomp down on them. Those guys with stretched lip piercings can wear plugs as lip piercing jewelry, too.
Male Genital Piercings
The most recent statistics available report that an estimated 3% of pierced men have genital piercings, but that number may be higher in reality. The plethora of male genital piercing pictures shared by our online community members alone is testament to the increased popularity of male genital piercings in recent years. If you're interested in getting a male genital piercing, you can choose from 11 general types, some of which some have multiple placement options (like Prince Albert piercings vs. reverse PA piercings) while others can be added in multiples (like frenum piercings placed in a column along the penile shaft to form a Jacob's ladder).
Most men find genital piercings to be a mental turn-on, but they don't typically have a physically sexually-stimulating element like VCH and similar female genital piercings do for women. There are a number of male genital piercings that can be physically stimulating to sexual partners, though, like apadravya piercings and frenum piercings. You can learn more about all of your different male genital piercing options, which types of jewelry work best in each, which ones are more painful than others, and which tend to be most pleasing to partners in our Male Piercings article.
If you'd like to learn more about popular types of piercings and jewelry styles for men and women, check out the Piercings section of our blog and our Piercing Information center, which is full of free educational piercing articles for piercers and piercees alike.
Tattoos and body piercings in the United States: A national data set, a 2006 study performed by Northwestern University