Women and men largely have the same piercing options. They can both choose from a variety of ear piercings, lip, eyebrow, nose and other facial piercings, tongue piercings and other oral piercings, surface piercings and dermal piercings, and even nipple piercings. Genital piercings are the one area where piercing options for women deviate from men. There are a few different female piercing options that are completely unique to women, all of which are in the genital region.
Types of Female Genital Piercings
When it comes to piercing options just for women, there are a few broad categories of female genital piercings and a number of specific female genital piercings that fall into each category. Generally speaking, the most popular and commonly-performed female genital piercings are clitoral hood piercings, labia piercings, and Christina piercings.
Clitoral Hood Piercings
Contrary to popular belief, very few piercers will actually pierce a woman's clitoris. The clitoris itself is just too sensitive and the delicate nerves clustered in it could be easily damaged if pierced incorrectly. Instead, if a woman is interested in getting a piercing that will stimulate her clitoris without overwhelming or damaging it, piercers typically suggest either a VCH piercing or an HCH piercing. Both piercings are piercings of the clitoral hood that provide varying degrees of stimulation for a woman. VCH stands for "vertical clitoral hood" and HCH is an acronym for "horizontal clitoral hood". What's the difference between the two types of clitoral hood piercings? Most obviously, one is placed horizontally through the clitoral hood while the other is placed vertically through it. There's a little more to it than that, though.
The depth of a woman's clitoral hood dictates which type of piercing she's a candidate to get. If you're interested in getting a clitoral hood piercing, your piercer will probably want to perform what's called a Q-tip test, where s/he will insert a cotton swab into your clitoral hood to see if it's deep enough to accommodate a receiving tube. A receiving tube (shown to the left) will essentially catch a piercing needle when it's passed through the top of your clitoral hood and prevent it from hitting and damaging the clitoris. If your clitoral hood isn't deep enough to accommodate a receiving tube comfortably, then you'll only be a candidate for an HCH piercing, which passes horizontally through the clitoral hood, over top of the clitoris, and doesn't require a receiving tube to protect the clitoris during the piercing process. If your clitoral hood is deep enough, then you can choose from either a VCH piercing or an HCH piercing.
VCH piercings tend to be more sexually stimulating than HCH piercings because of the way the jewelry sits after you're pierced. With a VCH piercing, the jewelry (often a bent barbell or a circular barbell) will rest on top of your clitoris vertically, touching more of your clitoris than an HCH piercing ring (often a captive ring of some variety) would and rubbing against it in a generally pleasing way when you move. If stimulation is your goal, then get a VCH piercing if your piercer says you qualify anatomically. If you're more interested in the aesthetic value of a clitoral hood piercing, then you may want to consider an HCH piercing instead. Jewelry tends to be more stationary with an HCH piercing, giving you a consistent look when you're intimate with someone.
Less Common Clitoral Hood Piercings
Women who have deep, wide clitoral hoods that can accommodate 2 cotton swabs in a Q-tip test are candidates for an even more sexually stimulating piercing called a Princess Diana piercing. Renowned piercing artist and author of The Piercing Bible, Elayne Angel, came up with the idea of the Princess Diana piercing for a woman who traveled a great distance to see her to have her perform what's called a triangle piercing, which actually sits behind the clitoris and stimulates it from underneath instead of over top like VCH and HCH piercings do. As with VCH piercings, not every woman is a candidate for a triangle piercing. Your piercer would have to be able to pinch behind your clitoral hood and lift up the clitoral shaft, away from your body, in order to be able to safely give you a triangle piercing. Unfortunately, most women just are not good candidates for this piercing, because there isn't enough tissue in their clitoral hoods and clitorises to manipulate them and pierce beneath the clitoris without damaging it. Elayne found that to be the case with the woman who traveled so far to get a triangle piercing. She didn't want the woman to leave disappointed, so she came up with a new concept for her: the Princess Diana piercing.
A Princess Diana piercing is somewhat of a hybrid between an HCH piercing and a VCH piercing, and it can provide a woman with even more stimulation than a VCH piercing, particularly if she gets a pair of Princess Diana piercings, which is the most popular arrangement for this type of female genital piercing. Each Princess Diana piercing goes through one outer side of the upper clitoral hood and comes out through the clitoral hood on the same side, alongside the clitoris. Usually these piercings are done with bent barbells, so that the end result would look something like this for women who are able to get a pair of these piercings: )'(
As you can see, a pair of Princess Diana piercings press against either side of the clitoris, somewhat pinching it between their arcs, but in a very sexually pleasing way. A very few, lucky women can get a pair of Princess Diana piercings and a VCH piercing. Since Princess Diana piercings enter the clitoral hood at roughly the same point as an HCH piercing would, they're rarely paired with HCH piercings. However, HCH piercing holes could possibly be re-purposed for a pair of Princess Diana piercings later, if your clitoral hood is deep and wide enough.
If you're age 18 or older and interested in seeing photos of the different types of clitoral hood piercings you may be a candidate to get, you can sign up for a Painful Pleasures account and log in to our photo gallery. You'll find the following clitoral hood piercing photo sections there, where our community members have shared images of their piercings:
"Labium" is Latin for "lip or lip-like part", and "labia" is the plural form of "labium". Women have two sets of "lips" surrounding their vaginas: the inner labia and the outer labia. The outer labia are thick, sturdy, and easily pierced on most women. The inner labia are very thin and delicate by comparison. Not all women have strong enough inner labia tissue to have it pierced.
Both inner and outer labia piercings tend to be done more for aesthetics than for a woman's own sexual pleasure. The aesthetic value can be quite a mental turn-on for a partner, though, which can in turn stimulate you mentally, if not physically. Some women get single rings or circular barbells placed through one or both sides of their inner or outer labia, while others opt for rows of rings on either or both sides. This is a more common practice with outer labia piercing than inner labia piercings, though, because they're larger, sturdier and more able to handle a row of rings than the delicate inner labia. Some women slowly stretch their outer labia piercings over time, until they can accommodate large-gauge rings or even smaller plugs or tunnels instead of fine-gauge rings, which are most often the exclusive jewelry used for inner labia piercings (i.e. rings in the ~20g range).
If you're over the age of 18 and have a Painful Pleasures account, you can visit the Female Genital Piercing Pictures section of our photo gallery to see pictures of both inner labia piercings an outer labia piercings that our community members have shared.
A Christina piercing--also known as a Venus piercing--is a type of female genital piercing performed exclusively for its aesthetic value. This type of female genital piercing is placed vertically through the pubic mound, above the clitoral hood. It's actually a surface piercing, which means that it pierces through an area of pinched-up flesh rather than an area that has an obvious entrance and exit point, like an earlobe does. Once this piercing is done, the gem ball on a Christina barbell (shown to the left) will typically be positioned directly above the peak of the clitoral hood, and a flat disc appears anywhere from 7/16" to 7/8" directly above the bottom ball, anchoring the jewelry in place.
Surface piercings by nature are more prone to rejection and migration than traditional piercings, and Christina piercings are one of the most likely types of surface piercings to be problematic. The reason has a lot to do with how much friction and pressure underwear and pants in particular put on the part of the body where a Christina piercing is placed. If you really want a Christina piercing, ask your piercer to use a traditional Christina piercing barbell, and to pierce you as deeply as is reasonably possible to give your Christina piercing the highest chance of success. You should also wear loose, breathable clothing (e.g. cotton underwear, skirts, etc.) as much as possible during the healing process.
There's one other type of female genital piercing that doesn't really fall into any of the other categories above, called a fourchette piercing. Fourchette piercings are not commonly performed, because very few women have the anatomical structure needed for this piercing. A fourchette piercing is a piercing of a flap of skin at the back of the vulva that few women have. It's a primarily aesthetic piercing, rather than a sexually-stimulating one. If you're interested in possibly getting one, have your piercer examine you to see if you qualify. If you'd like to see what fourchette piercings look like, visit the Fourchette Piercing Pictures section of our photo gallery. You'll need to be at least 18 years old and be logged into your Painful Pleasures account to see any fourchette piercing photos that our community members have shared.
Female Genital Piercing Aftercare & Healing Times
Most female genital piercings heal relatively quickly--more quickly than most other body piercings, in fact. Christina piercings are the primary exception; they can take anywhere from 3 to 4 months or more to heal, where as most other female genital piercings take 6 to 8 weeks or less. Here's a breakdown of the average healing time for each type of female genital piercing specifically:
- Christina Piercings: 3-4 months
- Clitoris Piercings: 4-6 weeks
- Fourchette Piercings: 2-3 months
- Horizontal Clitoral Hood Piercings: 6-8 weeks
- Inner Labia Piercings: 4-6 weeks
- Outer Labia Piercings: 2-3 months
- Princess Diana Piercings: 4-8 weeks
- Triangle Piercings: 2-3 months
- Vertical Clitoral Hood Piercings: 4-8 weeks
During the healing process, there are a few things you should and shouldn't do to ensure that your female genital piercing heals fully and well, so that you can enjoy it for many years to come. The rules are generally the same for all types of female genital piercings. Basically, you should:
- follow any special instructions with which your piercer provides you;
- lead a healthy lifestyle in general, which means getting sufficient sleep, eating well, staying hydrated, and performing proper hygiene;
- clean your piercing 3 to 6 times per day using a sea salt-based solution rather than soap--something like Recovery Piercing Aftercare Spray or a homemade solution of 1 cup sterile water with 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt stirred in; and,
- talk to your piercer immediately if you experience any significant problems, like irregular swelling, excessive itchiness, hypergranulation (described in our blog post, Identifying & Minimizing Body Piercing Scars), or other concerning issues.
During the female genital healing process, you should not:
- have sexual intercourse or play with your piercing before it's fully healed;
- let anyone else's bodily fluids come in contact with your new piercing;
- change your body jewelry prematurely or without your piercer's help the first time; and finally,
- worry if your piercing discharges a whitish substance known as lymph. This is a perfectly normal part of the healing process and is not a concern unless it changes from a whitish color to a thicker, yellowish, more pus-like discharge. Lymph sometimes dries to a crust (hence the term "crusties" that people often use with new piercings), which is also not an issue. Simply spray saline solution around your piercing to soften the crust, and then gently wipe it away with a clean tissue or cotton swab.
If you have any questions or concerns during the healing process, contact your piercer or reach out to our knowledgeable forum moderators and members. You will need a Painful Pleasures account to log in to our forum and post questions there, just as you do to see sexually-explicit images in our photo gallery. For more information, read our How to Use the Forum article. If you need help using the photo gallery, read our How to Use the Gallery article.
To learn more about female piercing options, read our article, The Basics of Male & Female Genital Piercings.