“How many piercings do you have?” is a question I get asked constantly.
“I have…12?” I always reply, feigning hesitation, as if I’ve lost count over the years. “I have five in one ear, six on the other, and my nose ring, obviously.” That answer is usually enough to satisfy anyone, but I smirk to myself when I say it — because, in addition to the piercings that everyone can see, I have another piece of surgical steel hardware that only a few people know about. Because, a few months ago, I got my VCH pierced.
For the uninitiated, each pierce-able spot on your body is known by either its anatomical name or the name it is called in the industry. On your ear, for example, a "forward helix" piercing goes through the fore-part of your helix, which is the hard little fold of skin that “starts” the curve of your outer ear. Your “rook" is the type of piercing that goes through your anti-helix, or the top section of your ear that sits just above where you pop in your earbuds. So what is the VCH? It’s the vertical clitoral hood.
That’s right, I have my genitals pierced.
And I love it.
I reached the decision to pierce my VCH pretty quickly. I always knew that genital piercings were a thing, but I didn’t know anybody who had one (as far as I could tell). For someone who loves piercings and tattoos as much as I do, the idea of an intimate piercing beneath my underwear was too intriguing to resist.
He finally pushed the needle up through my clitoral hood. It was one of the most painfully intense sensations I have ever experienced in my life.
After letting the idea marinate for only, like, two weeks, I decided that I needed to add a VCH piercing to my collection. I did this with the breeziness of someone deciding whether or not to buy bath towels (“Sure, we might need extras for the guest bathroom!”).
I Googled “piercing shops that do genital piercings in nj” and found a place in northern New Jersey, in the town where my aunt and uncle live. Plus, it was only 20 minutes from my boyfriend’s house. I took that as a sign.
Mike, my boyfriend, was kind of taken aback when I told him what we were going to do that day. “You want to get your vagina pierced?”
I sighed. “It’s not my vagina. Your vagina is inside of you. It’s the vertical clitoral hood. I’m piercing the flap of skin that covers my clitoris.”
“There’s skin over your clit?” He looked confused.
I resisted lecturing him about female anatomy — I wanted him to drive me, after all. “Yeah, and you can get pierced all kinds of crazy ways down there. Some people do it horizontally, like a cartilage piercing in your ear. I’m piercing it vertically with a bent bar, so it’ll kind of look like belly button piercing…on my genitalia.”
We drove to the shop, laughing about how outrageous this adventure was. The piercing studio was clean, professional, and the walls were painted dark purple. My kind of place. The woman working behind the counter had dyed red hair, Bettie Page bangs, and was covered in more tattoos than my boyfriend. She asked what I wanted done today. My eyes darted around the empty shop like I was in a B-list spy movie. “I want to get my VCH done.”
She showed me the sample starter jewelry I could get, and explained to me that VCH piercings were dependent on anatomy. If the piercer determines that it’s not possible on my body, I’ll get a full refund. I chose a simple surgical steel bent bar with plain cubic zirconium stone.
I never get nervous for a piercing until I’m actually sitting in the chair. Even though the idea of being a “pain junkie” is really cliché, getting pierced always produces a twisted thrill for me. I love the experience of sitting in the chair, getting the location marked with ink, and having my usual piercer, Desiree, tell me to stop fucking moving or its going to get messed up.
The piercing artist working on me today was named Will. As in "William." He was a man, which definitely made it a little awkward for me. He was friendly and upbeat, though. “What are we getting done today?” He looked at my paperwork. “VCH? Right on. Take your pants off and go ahead and relax.” I glanced at Mike and he just grimaced.
I hopped up on the cushion and Will unhitched the stirrups from the bottom of the chair. I felt like I was at the OBGYN, except my gyno doesn’t have tattoos and piercings( that I know of). He unwrapped the jewelry from the sterile packaging and prepared his work station. I was starting to get that nervous feeling I get at the beginning of a session. “So how much genitalia have you pierced?” is a question I never thought I’d ask in my life.
He brought his tray over to me. “Let’s see…I’ve done a genital piercing every other day since I started at this studio. And I’ve been here for about nine years.”
I laughed. This exchange helped me relax a little bit. Until he bent down and was face-to-face with my crotch. He scoped out the perimeter. “Your body is okay for the piercing. I can do it.” There was no going back now. He marked the spot on my clitoral hood where the piercing would go with a purple piercing marker. He capped it and handed it to me. “This is for you.” Oh goody, a souvenir.
He glanced at Mike. “This your boyfriend?” I resisted the urge to say “No, he’s my brother,” or something equally stupid. “Yes, that’s my boyfriend.”
Will nodded at Mike. “You wanna get yours done today too, buddy?” Mike laughed uncomfortably. “Nah, I’m good.”
“Hey, why not? Now’s the time to do it. You’ll both be healing together.” Will reminded me that I needed to abstain from sex or other traumatic contact to the area for about two to six weeks, depending how quickly it healed.
Will sat down on the stool in front of me. Now I was nervous. My heart pounded quicker and swelled against my ribs. He pressed the forceps between my hood and my clitoris and pulled out the long, sharp needle. Part of me wanted to run out of there screaming, but a bigger part of me couldn’t wait for the painful thrill.
He finally pushed the needle up through my clitoral hood. It was one of the most painfully intense sensations I have ever experienced in my life. “OHHHHH FUCK!” I screamed for the first time ever in a piercing session. The needle skewered my hood for a moment before Will gathered the jewelry. After he drew the needle out, the pain vanished. He fed the bent bar through the hole, and then screwed on the top to secure it.
I now had my lucky 13th piercing.
My friends thought it was the wildest thing ever. I immediately sent a picture to my best friend. She was jealous of how pretty and sparkly it was. I also uploaded a picture to the group message with my roommates from college. They screamed via text. When I saw them a few weeks later at a party, we stole away into an empty bedroom so I could drop my pants and show them.
There are a few things to know about genital piercing aftercare. The day after I got pierced, I went for a run and the chafing caused my piercing to bleed onto my underwear a little bit. I also abstained from sex for about three weeks, to let it fully heal. The first few times I had sex with my new piercing, it felt uncomfortable bordering on painful. I thought this stupid thing was supposed to enhance sexual pleasure, I fumed. Even though the piercing had completely healed, metal rubbing against my clitoris was a very new and very weird sensation.
It took a few awkward weeks before I finally got used to it. Masturbating (once it healed) also helped me get used to this new source of friction. Now that I’ve had it for five months, it makes sex even more enjoyable. The sensation is stronger when I ride on top, and I’ve been told it feels really cool on the tongue during oral sex.
My VCH piercing is one of my favorite things about myself. I felt like a freaky little celebrity walking around with my secret piercing. It makes me feel unique, badass and sexy.