People may get penis piercings for aesthetic reasons or to enhance sexual experience. There are many different ways to pierce the penis or other genital features. Piercings in the penile head can be very painful, but other areas may be less so.
A penis piercing is any piercing to adorn jewelry on any part of the genitals. Body piercers typically insert it into the penile head or glans, foreskin, shaft, or the ball sac.
People can have piercings at different points or positions. Penis piercing is often an umbrella term that includes piercings outside the genitals, including the anus, perineum, and the pubis.
This article explores why people get penis piercings, the types of jewelry and piercing, the procedure, whether it is painful, costs, risks, aftercare, and answers some frequently asked questions.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
People get penis piercings for a variety of reasons:
- expression of personal style and uniqueness
- rite of passage in some traditional cultures
- increased sexual pleasure for the wearer
- enhanced sexual stimulation for the partner
There are many jewelry options for penis piercings, with some being more suitable for certain piercing locations:
- Captive bead ring: This has a curved hoop with a bead in between.
- Straight barbell: This consists of a straight bar and beads on either end. One or both beads can unscrew.
- Curved barbell: This has a curved center post with beads on each end.
- Circular barbell: This is a U-sharped post with beads on either end.
- Surface bar: This is a variation of the straight barbell that looks like open staples anchored on each side with beads.
There are many types of penis piercings, and each has its name and uses the above types of jewelry.
- Ampallang: This is a horizontal piercing through the glans that uses a straight barbell.
- Apadravya: This one is a vertical piercing through the penile head and urethra that uses a straight barbell.
- Magic cross: This combines an ampallang and an apadravya. It is a horizontal and vertical piercing through the penile head.
- Deep shaft: This piercing goes along the penile shaft and uses straight barbells.
- Dydoe: It is a vertical piercing through the ridge of the penile head that uses a curved barbell. King’s crown refers to multiple dydoes or Zephyr is a deep dydoe. A longer barbell pierces through the shaft and exits the tip of the head.
- Foreskin: It is a piercing for uncircumcised people with a captive ring.
- Frenum: This one is a horizontal piercing in the elastic tissue band called the frenulum, connecting the penile head to the shaft. It has curved or straight barbells. Frenum ladder is when there are multiple parallel piercings.
- Guiche: It is a horizontal piercing on the perineum — the skin between the ball sac and anus, using a ring or barbell.
- Hafada: This piercing can be anywhere on the ball sac. People have straight or curved barbells or a captive bead ring.
- Lorum: A low frenum piercing runs horizontally at the base of the penis where it meets the ball sac. Piercers use straight barbells and captive bead rings.
- Prince Albert: This is a ring-style piercing that enters the urethra and comes through the shaft’s underside, using a captive bead ring or a barbell. A Reverse Prince Albert passes through the urethra and exits the top of the shaft.
- Pubic: A pubic is any piercing at the base of the penis that meets the torso. This uses surface bars, captive bead rings, or circular barbells.
A professional piercer licensed by the Association of Professional Piercers can perform the procedure or any type of body piercing. The exact process will depend on a person’s type of piercings. Generally, the piercer can:
- wear gloves
- sterilize the area
- label the entry and exit points with a marker
- use numbing creams to reduce pain
Then, the piercer will insert a needle into the entry and exit points. They may use forceps to hold the skin as they insert the chosen jewelry. The piercer will then clean and bandage the area and instruct the person on how to care for the newly pierced site.
The pain level will depend on:
- a person’s pain tolerance
- the piercer’s experience
- the site to be pierced
Foreskin piercings do not hurt a lot compared with a piercing in the penile head, as it contains many sensitive nerve endings.
It is important for a person with diabetes to consult with their health practitioners first since they are often at a higher risk of infection. People with keloids may want to consider avoiding all types of body piercings.
The factors that the piercers will consider before suggesting a specific piercing include:
- motivations, like increased sensation for themselves or their partners
- healing time
- procedure’s pain level
- potential for bleeding
Some piercings may also affect a person’s ability to urinate. Some may pierce condoms.
Penis piercings may cost between $50 and 150 depending on the piercing service cost. Some piercings cost more because they require more expertise or due to the complexity of the procedure.
People may have jewelry in different types of materials. Metal body jewelry may cost $15 apiece, while jewelry made of gold or platinum with diamond studs may rise as high as $500.
Piercings are generally safe when a licensed doctor or piercer performs them.
- tissue trauma
The penile tissues may also reject the piercing, or the piercing might migrate to a different location. Both may lead to redness, burning, discoloration, or swelling on the penis, or surrounding area as the body’s immune system reacts to the foreign material.
It is important for a person to consult a medical professional if they experience any of the above symptoms.
A 2018 research review associated male genital piercings with:
- urethral rupture
- urethral obstruction
- scar formation
- squamous cell carcinoma
- sexually transmitted infections
Genital piercings may also increase a person’s risk of:
- urinary tract infections
- hepatitis B and hepatitis C
- anogenital warts
- self-inflicted trauma
- trauma to the partner during oral, anal, or genital sex
Potential complications also include:
- infection of the piercing site, including parasitic infections
- allergic reaction to the jewelry
- hygiene issues
- formation of a fistula, a passage between the urethra to the surface of the penis with the piercing hole
- narrowing of the urethra — urethral stricture
- changes in the penis form
- nerve damage, leading to loss of sensation, pain, or erectile dysfunction
The healing time depends on the procedure, but some piercings like the ampallang and apadravya may take 6 months to a year to fully heal. Not following the aftercare instructions may delay healing.
Some aftercare tips a person can perform to help with the healing process can include:
- washing the area with saline at least twice a day
- covering the area with a bandage and changing it daily
- washing hands before touching the pierced area
- avoiding sexual intercourse
- using proper barrier methods for sex and preventing the exchange of bodily fluids in the genital area
- drinking plenty of fluids
- cleaning the pierced site with a saline solution after sex
How long does a penis piercing last?
Factors like a person’s level of care and how their tissues heal and respond to piercings can affect how long their penis piercings will last.
Unlike nontraditional piercings, the skin around the pierced site may heal and force the jewelry out. It is important not to remove the jewelry for a long time, since the hole tends to close quickly.
How can you change jewelry?
A person can begin changing their jewelry as soon as the piercing site heals. It would be most helpful for a piercer to change a person’s jewelry. However, a person may also do it themselves, following the steps below:
- Clean hands thoroughly and clean the pierced site with a saline solution.
- Unscrew the beads.
- Remove the hoop from the hole.
- Carefully push the new jewelry through the hole. Put the beads back and secure the jewelry onto the body.
- Rinse the area with saline solution and pat it dry.
How do you retire a piercing?
If the piercing heals completely, a person can take the jewelry out and let the opening close by itself. If the piercing is still healing, do not remove it, since it may cause bacteria to infect the wound.
If the piercer allows a person to remove the jewelry, keeping the wound clean as the penile tissues heal is essential.
Does a person need to be erect during the procedure?
A person does not need to be erect during the procedure. However, some piercings require a person to be erect for more accurate measurement.
Which piercing will give the most sensation?
Piercings in the penile shaft or head can increase the stimulation during sex, leading to heightened pleasure.
Penis piercings are nontraditional body piercings that a person gets for many reasons, including enhanced sexual pleasure, self-expression, and aesthetics.
A person may want to consider talking with a licensed professional piercer and discuss factors like healing time, pain, and motivation for getting one so that the piercer can recommend the best piercing according to a person’s preferences.
A doctor can also give insights into the potential risk, aftercare, and the impact of having a piercing.