|Jewelry||Barbell, captive bead ring|
|Healing||8 to 12 months|
A nipple piercing is a body piercing, centered usually at the base of the nipple. It can be pierced at any angle but is usually done horizontally or, less often, vertically. It is also possible to place multiple piercings on top of one another.
The perforation of the nipple to apply jewelry has been practiced by various people throughout history. Male nipple piercing was reported to be done by the Karankawa Native Americans, female nipple piercing is practiced by the Kabyle people in Algeria.
In the western world it potentially dates back to the 14th century. The anthropologist Hans Peter Duerr traces the earliest known practice of female nipple piercing as a fashion statement to the Court of Queen Isabeau of Bavaria (1385 to 1417), quoting Eduard Fuchs he describes that:
...fashion eventually led to the application of rouge to freely display nipples [...] placing diamond-studded rings or small caps on them, even piercing them and passing gold chains through them decorated with diamonds, possibly to demonstrate the youthful resilience of the bosom.
However, these sources are difficult to verify.
Nipple piercing became a fashion trend among society women during the Victorian period around 1890. Reports about nipple piercings were featured in magazines such as Vogue at the end of the 19th century:
For a long time I could not understand why I should consent to such a painful operation without sufficient reason. I soon, however came to the conclusion that many ladies are ready to bear the passing pain for the sake of love. I found that the breasts of those who wore rings were incomparably rounder and fuller developed than those who did not. My doubts were now at an end...so I had my nipples pierced, and when the wounds were healed, I had rings inserted...with regard to the experience of wearing these rings, I can only say that they are not in the least uncomfortable or painful. On the contrary, the slight rubbing and slipping of the rings causes in me an extremely titillating feeling, and all my colleagues I have spoken to on this subject have confirmed my opinion.
However, the historian Lesley Hall has commented that these claims might be traced back to a few letters published in the magazine Society during 1899, which can be judged as erotic fantasies rather than descriptions of actual activity.
In the late 1970s, the practice was revived again by Jim Ward and gained foothold in gay BDSM and leather subcultures. During the 1980s and early 1990s, the Modern primitive movement embraced nipple piercings among other forms of body modification. With its roots at the United States west coast, modern primitives were intrigued by indigenous, so-called "primitive" cultures and adopted various forms of body modification. The mainstream popularity of the practice is partly due to celebrities who publicly displayed their piercings or confessed to have one in the 1990s, such as Tommy Lee, Corey Taylor and Lenny Kravitz.
Nipple piercing has gained much popularity in recent years with many celebrities and fashion models having this type of piercing. Despite this, many are motivated to get a nipple piercing for personal reasons including for self-expression and to feel unique. Furthermore, at least one study has shown people take, on average, 1–2 years to make a decision to get pierced.
Healing and after care
Some people have noted that they can take up to a year and a half to heal fully. It is recommended that if stretching a nipple piercing, the piercee waits at least the healing time of their piercings between stretches.
Nipple piercing and sensitivity
Sexual arousal created by nipple and areola stimulation is reported to be enhanced by piercing of the nipple. Most women claim an increase in sensitivity and arousal after having their nipples pierced. As a result of a surge of information exposing the sexual enhancement aspect of a pierced nipple, there has been a reported increase of men and women requesting this procedure.
Nipple piercing and breastfeeding
A common question among women who consider nipple piercings is how it may affect breastfeeding. There is no evidence to suggest that proper nipple piercings can cause any complications with lactation. A letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests improperly pierced nipples and scarring may result in blocked ducts.
It is recommended that good care be taken to prevent infection by using a piercing professional and good body piercing aftercare. Frequent re-piercings can also damage the nipple and cause complications. It is also recommended that the piercing be healed before breastfeeding. Most body piercing professionals will refuse to pierce a pregnant woman for this reason and because piercing causes stress on the body that could potentially complicate a pregnancy.
Several complications have been noted involving breastfeeding with a piercing present, so it is recommended to remove nipple jewelry before nursing. Several complications resulting from nursing with nipple jewelry inserted can include poor latch, slurping, gagging, and milk leaking from the baby's mouth.
It can also be a potential choking hazard for the baby. As the baby sucks, the ends on a barbell (if worn) may come loose and could possibly lodge in the baby's throat (a captive bead ring, properly inserted, would lessen the risk of anything becoming loose, falling out, and lodging in the throat). The baby's gums and tongue as well as the soft and hard palate could be injured by the jewelry.
There is no evidence that pierced nipples will affect your ability to breastfeed. Your breasts will still produce adequate milk for your baby, and unless your body rejected the piercing right after you had it done, there is no reason to anticipate any additional problems with infection. It is unlikely that the holes that are left in your nipple will cause a problem. Each nipple has between fifteen and twenty tiny nipple pores that the milk comes out of, so even if some were damaged, there should be plenty left for nursing. Breast surgery often damages the milk ducts inside the breast, and this can definitely create problems. The situation with nipple piercing is very different.— Dr. Kendall-Tackett
Piercing of inverted nipples
Inverted nipples are primarily a cosmetic problem but might interfere with breastfeeding. Nipples that are inverted can be pierced, in fact it has been proposed as a corrective strategy to protract the nipple.
The nipple is fleshy enough to pierce securely behind plenty of skin to prevent rejection. However, if the jewelry gauge is too thin or the piercing is not deep enough to begin with, there is a risk of rejection. Metal allergies, infections, or excessive pulling/tugging can also cause the piercing to be rejected.
Death due to complications resulting from nipple piercings may have occurred, as have serious infections resulting in the removal of a breast after getting a nipple ring, but typically, a nipple piercing will take two to four months to heal fully.
A nipple piercing gained considerable media attention after Super Bowl XXXVIII, during which Justin Timberlake accidentally exposed Janet Jackson's right breast on which she had a nipple shield applied to a piercing. This incident is humorously called Nipplegate. Nicole Richie set off an alarm at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport as she passed a metal detector with her nipple piercing. Pink had her nipple pierced backstage after a concert she was giving in Germany; in the presence of her mother. The whole scene was filmed and later published on her DVD Pink: Live in Europe. Christina Aguilera had all her piercings removed except for her right nipple piercing. Also, R&B singer Cassie has both of her nipples pierced. Pictures of her breasts were posted on the Internet when someone hacked into her private photographs. Pop singer Rihanna had her nipple piercing exposed first in the same way and later in a Lui magazine pictorial.
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- Media related to Nipple piercings at Wikimedia Commons