You have a right to make decisions for your own body, so the choice of whether or not to get a genital piercing is entirely up to you. However, the best decisions are made with full information about what risks are involved with such procedures and how you can mitigate any consequences. You may have heard that genital piercings carry the potential risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, however, you can minimise this risk through a correctly carried out procedure and good aftercare.

Firstly, always make sure the piercer is a licensed professional. The room they work in should be clean and sanitised and, unless instruments are sterilised in an autoclave, they should be new, sterile disposables that are unopened. The jewellery should be in the same sterile unopened state. Do not get your piercing done at any location which uses a piercing gun for genital piercing, as most cannot be sterilised in an autoclave. The piercer should wash their hands and wear gloves to start the procedure, including while opening the instrumental packages. If any of these requirements are not met, or even if it just does not feel right, then go elsewhere.

Once your genitals have been pierced, the aftercare is very important and should be discussed with your piercer. Avoid sexual intercourse, excessive touching of the area, hot tubs and swimming whilst the piercing is healing. You should also wash the area regularly with a diluted saline solution, especially after sex and before urination if the piercing is close to the urethra. If you do not take good care of your piercing, then you increase the risk of complications such as bleeding, nerve damage, bacterial infection and scarring. Even after the piercing has healed watch for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling and discharge.

So whether you are getting a ‘Prince Albert’ or a ‘Vertical Clitoral Hood’, make sure you are fully informed and take good care of your new adornment. If you have any genital piercing and are worried about any aspect of the procedure or aftercare, you should contact a doctor and consider being tested for STIs. Better2Know offers a confidential and discreet testing service at clinics across the UK, and you can even book a home testing kit if this is more convenient.

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