Today I was contacted (as Medical Liaison to the Association of Professional Piercers) by the media relations department of the Loyola University Health System. They are planning to write a press release on "clitoral piercings" because their obstetricians have been seeing a rise in the popularity of genital piercings. I clarified to her that piercings of the clitoris itself are quite rare, but that female genital piercings--especially of the hood area--are extremely popular. She wanted to know if they were more painful than other areas, or more prone to infections. These are common questions, and the answers are sometimes surprising: no--they aren't necessarily more painful than other areas (when the piercer is skillful and well trained), and they tend to be easy and quick to heal. From my book, I also filled her in on the very important rules for having safer sex while you're healing a genital piercing:
There is no set period for abstinence from sexual activities while genital piercings are healing. There are, however, two nonnegotiable rules: 1. Be gentle. Pay attention to your body. If your piercing feels sore, you must stop what you’re doing, or at least ease up. As you begin to heal and the piercing feels less tender, you must still be vigilant to avoid injuring the fragile new cells. 2. Be clean and hygienic. Protective barriers must be used to prevent the sharing of bodily fluids. For oral sexual contact, use a dental dam (sheet of latex) to shield female genitalia and a flavored or unlubricated condom during fellatio. Thoroughly wash hands and sex toys before contact near a healing piercing, and use condoms for all intercourse and on insertables like dildos and bullet-type vibrators. If other barriers aren’t suitable, apply a waterproof dressing such as a Nexcare or Tegaderm before sexual activities to keep your partner’s body fluids from getting on your piercing. All of these precautions are mandatory to prevent infection during the entire initial healing period, even if you and your partner are monogamous and healthy. I also told her about the study on Vertical Clitoral Hood (VCH) piercings I was involved with. (Piercees from my studio, Rings of Desire, were the ones who filled out the before and after surveys.) Dr. Vaughn Millner and associates at the University of South Alabama conducted a research study on VCH piercings as they relate to female sexual satisfaction. The results led to the following statement: “In this exploratory study, we identify a positive relationship between vertical clitoral hood piercing and desire, frequency of intercourse and arousal.” These encouraging findings have been published in the prestigious (and conservative) American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. I also described to her the information in my book about menstruation, pregnancy, delivery, and breast feeding as they relate to body piercings. Hopefully the woman I spoke with will make good use of the information I provided her and create an accurate and informative press release. I look forward to seeing it!