Introduction to Female Genital Piercings

12.07.2010 | By: Elayne Angel, The Piercing Bible-The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing

Learn about female genital piercings in a new exhaustive article by Elayne Angel!

Genital piercings- a girl's best friend (Photoxpress)

Female genital piercings- a girl's little metal secret (Photoxpress)


Female genitals are formed with tremendous—though sometimes subtle—variations. Not all women are able to get every genital piercing placement. In fact, some women with small hoods and inner labia are built only for outer labia piercings. Most women are not configured for a triangle piercing (more on that piercing coming in a future article), and many are poorly shaped for a horizontal hood piercing. Everyone is different; heed the advice of an expert, and don’t take it personally if the piercing you want doesn’t anatomically suit you.

Hills and Valleys

This terminology helps us to identify and discuss two basic shapes of female genital anatomy. These builds could also be described as “innie” and “outie,” but I’ll reserve those terms for navels. If you are built with a valley, you have outer labia that are higher than your hood. You have a very vertical shape and are poorly suited to horizontal piercings; the jewelry would twist when you close your legs. You lack sufficient hood tissue to support a horizontal piercing or have too much outer labia and surrounding skin, which would interfere with horizontal jewelry.

If you are built with a hill, you have a hood that is substantial, and higher than your outer labia. You may be a better candidate for horizontal piercings, depending on the configuration of your hood. Even though women with hills are better suited to horizontal piercings than those with valleys, some still opt for vertical placement, or both.

A VCH piercing at the top and a fourchette at the bottom.  (Credit: By Jennifer Klapecki from The Piercing Bible)

A VCH piercing at the top and a fourchette at the bottom. (Credit: By Jennifer Klapecki from The Piercing Bible)

Hypersensitivity, Sensation, and Desensitization

I receive many questions about these issues, so I wanted to address this early in our discussion. In the event you ultimately feel your genital piercing is too intense, you can change the jewelry to a different size or style. This is not a frequent problem, but if you still have discomfort, the jewelry can be removed with no permanent changes to your sensation.

There is often a period of localized hypersensitivity during the first few days or so following piercing. The overstimulated nerve endings calm as healing begins and the body grows accustomed to the constant stimulus of the jewelry, usually within the first week. For better or worse, genital piercings are not permanently stimulating. Regardless of piercing placement, there is no concern—nor hope—of becoming a continuous human orgasm machine. That said, increased pleasurable sensations are a common consequence when nipple or genital piercings are touched or fondled, whether new or healed. Some piercees experience spectacular enhancements, and a number of piercees also report having an improved libido, at least for a while.

When piercings are properly placed and handled according to accepted practice, there is no physiological basis for permanent damage to sensation from any of the common piercing placements. Piercings (including those of the nipples and genitals) are often rumored to result in eventual desensitization of the area. I’ve even been asked by an anxious, uninformed piercee, “Two years after my piercing is done, will I lose all feeling in my nipple like my friend told me I would?” Urban myths abound, but there is no empirical evidence that the continued presence of jewelry will diminish any of the sensation with which a person is naturally blessed.i

Women occasionally report diminished sensation in the localized area after genital piercing. This can usually be attributed to the typical spike in sensitivity following the piercing, and normalizing of sensation once it has settled and the wearer has become accustomed to it. Rather than a decrease in original sensation, this is usually a matter of getting used to a piercing that felt highly responsive when it was new. These are seldom concerns with male genital piercings because the nerve endings are distributed over a much larger area.

The first piercing I’ll discuss is more popular than all of the others put together, so I’ll go into some depth on this one: the VCH.

The Vertical Clitoral Hood (VCH) Piercing

Healing time: 4 to 8 weeks

Initial jewelry style: Straight or curved barbell, or ring-style jewelry

Initial jewelry gauge: Commonly 14 or 12 gauge; maximum 10 gauge

Initial jewelry size: Average length or diameter 3/8 to 1/2 inch

Many women like the idea of making their genitals more functional and attractive at the same time. They don’t mind having an extra spot to wear a diamond or ruby, either. These are some of the driving forces behind the growing popularity of the vertical clitoral hood piercing. Women of all types, from sorority sisters to empty-nest retirees, are getting VCH piercings. This is not only for alternative individuals. Numerous women who have no other body art wear the VCH piercing. It is suited to any woman who wants to explore new avenues of erotic sensation, if she is anatomically built for it. It is liberating and stimulating as well as appealing and inspiring. The momentary pinch and quick, easy healing period are a small price to pay for the pleasure you can derive.

The q-tip test to determine suitability for VCH piercing. (Photo by Elayne Angel)

The q-tip test to determine suitability for VCH piercing. (Photo by Elayne Angel)

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.ii

VCH Piercing: Placement and Choice of Jewelry

The VCH is the most popular of the female genital piercings for several reasons. As the name describes, the piercing is placed in the same direction that women’s genitals are formed, so the jewelry rests comfortably between the legs and is not subject to stress or irritation. Approximately 90 percent of women are built with a prepuce (the protective fold of hood tissue above the clitoris), in which jewelry can be placed for a comfortable and stimulating piercing.

This hood is normally configured like a tiny one-ended tunnel, and the VCH pierces through just the thin membrane of skin above your clitoris, not through the clitoris itself. Most of the jewelry rests under the hood. When the piercing is properly placed, your clitoris receives direct action from contact with the jewelry during sex. Many women enjoy this a great deal, but if you would describe your clitoris as hypersensitive, you will probably not want to wear jewelry in this location.

To determine if you have sufficient depth for the piercing, try to slide a lubricated cotton swab underneath your hood. If most of the cottony end fits under the tunnel, then you are built for a VCH (presuming you lack a visible vein along the midline). If the swab is too wide, you can remove some of the fluff; the concern is depth, not width. If you have a shallow tunnel and only part of the tip fits under your hood, you are probably a poor candidate for the VCH. In some cases, an expert can cheat the piercing a little further up for safety, a minimum of 5/16 inch from the edge.

Traditional placement for the VCH is at the apex (the deepest part) underneath the hood, along the midline. The piercing should be situated 3/8 to 1/2 inch up from the edge of the hood. The jewelry has the appearance of passing through the whole length of tissue from the piercing to the bottom of the hood. However, because of the tunnel shape, only a small amount of skin is pierced, and most of the jewelry simply rests under the hood against the clitoris. I can usually see through this thin flesh during the piercing. On the deepest of hoods, the piercing may be placed lower than the apex to moderate the jewelry size. If you have a deep hood but don’t care to add much sensation, you might want to have the piercing placed a few millimeters below the apex.

Most frequently, I put a curved bar in a fresh VCH piercing. This style helps to minimize friction and prevent irritation during healing, especially if you are built with a hill. The curve allows the jewelry to rest a little closer to the clitoris and provides a small amount of extra room without added length. If you prefer a little less stimulation, you can use a straight barbell. If you are seeking maximum sensation or have a recessed clitoris, then a J-curve is a good option. The shaped post underneath your hood increases contact between the jewelry and your clitoris. If you have a deep valley, the ring and bar are both suitable styles for initial jewelry.

If you are overweight, you may still be suited to a VCH piercing if you have sufficient hood tissue and your piercer can access the area to perform the procedure. Sometimes an assistant is needed to help expose the area (either you or a studio employee, wearing clean gloves). Even if your jewelry will be entirely tucked in and hidden by full outer labia, once it is in place, the VCH generally heals well.

A surface VCH piercing--incorrectly placed. (Photo by Elayne Angel)

A surface VCH piercing--incorrectly placed. (Photo by Elayne Angel)

Inexpert piercers frequently place the VCH too close to the edge of the hood. Shallow piercings result in less pleasure because the jewelry is too far from the clitoris. Also, if too little tissue is pierced, you have a greater risk of tearing, migration, and rejection.

Women need to wear initial VCH jewelry that has some room for growth during arousal. When a bar is used for healing, the bottom ball should show below the inverted V that forms the peak of the hood; it should not be hidden under the hood (though this is a popular option once healing is concluded, since many find it pleasurable). If a ring is used for initial jewelry, it must be large enough so it does not constrict the hood tissue.

Correct VCH piercing placement (Photo by Anna Y)

Correct VCH piercing placement (Photo by Anna Y)

Unfortunately, many piercers have little or no training in performing genital piercings, and I receive messages on a daily basis from women who have received improperly placed piercings. A “surface VCH” is shockingly common. This is a piercing that pierces only through surface of the hood tissue and does not touch the clitoris, so it will not be stimulating. It also passes through more tissue than a VCH piercing.

Coming next, a discussion of the Prince Albert piercing—the most popular genital piercing for men.


 Health Services at Columbia University, “Pierced Clit,” Go Ask Alice! (questions and answers), (accessed June 22, 2007).

 Vaughn S. Millner et al., “First Glimpse of the Functional Benefits of Clitoral Hood Piercings,” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 193, no. 3 (September 2005): 675–76.


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