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Nipple piercing

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nipple piercing
Woman with barbell (left), man with captive bead ring (right)
JewelryBarbell, captive bead ring
Healing8 to 12 months

A nipple piercing is a type of 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 first reported example of pierced nipples occurred at the court of Isabeau of Bavaria (1370 to 1435), queen consort of France.[1]

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.[2]

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 Isabeau of Bavaria (1370 to 1435), queen consort of France, 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.[3]

There are also references to a fashion for nipple piercing among society women during the Victorian era around 1890.[4][5] However, the historian Lesley Hall has commented that these can be traced to a few letters published in the magazine Society during 1899, and can be judged as erotic fantasies rather than descriptions of actual activity.[6]

"Modern primitive" in Californian forest, 1993

In the late 1970s, the practice was revived by Jim Ward and it was adopted by the BDSM and leather subcultures of the gay community. During the 1980s and early 1990s, the modern primitive movement embraced nipple piercings among other forms of body modification. With its roots in the West Coast of the United States, the modern primitive movement was intrigued by indigenous, so-called "primitive" cultures and adopted various forms of body modification.[7][8] The mainstream popularity of nipple piercing is partly due to certain 1990s celebrities such as Tommy Lee, Corey Taylor and Lenny Kravitz who publicly displayed their piercings or said that they had them.

Left image alt text
Male nipple piercings have become more popular in recent years.
Right image alt text
Pierced nipples do not interfere with breastfeeding, but jewelry on nipples should be removed.

Nipple piercing has gained in popularity in the 21st century with a number of celebrities and fashion models having this type of piercing.[9][10] In addition, many people are motivated to have nipple piercings for personal reasons including self-expression and a desire to feel unique.[11] At least one study has shown that people spend, on average, 1–2 years making the decision to have a piercing.[11]



Sexual arousal created by areola and nipple stimulation is reported to be enhanced by piercing of the nipple.[12] Most women claim an increase in sensitivity and arousal after having their nipples pierced.[13] As a result of a surge of information claiming sexual enhancement with a pierced nipple, there has been a reported increase of men and women requesting this procedure.[14]



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.[15] A letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests improperly pierced nipples and scarring may result in blocked ducts.[16]

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.[17]

Some lactation consultants say that nipple piercings should not affect the ability to breastfeed but no clinical studies have been carried out on the subject. The suggested risks include pain while breastfeeding, reduced or diverted milk flow, and the infection of blocked lactiferous ducts.[18][19][20]

Inverted nipples

Stretched nipple piercing with larger gauge ball closure ring

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.[21]

Potential complications


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,[22] as have serious infections resulting in the removal of a breast after getting a nipple ring,[23] but typically, a nipple piercing will take at least six months to a year for women or two to four months for men[24] to heal fully.

There is an increased risk of nonpuerperal mastitis occurring in the months after nipple piercing.[25]

Notable wearers


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 called Nipplegate. Nicole Richie set off an alarm at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport as she passed a metal detector with her nipple piercing.[26] 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.[27] Pop singer Rihanna had her nipple piercing exposed first in the same way[28] and later in a Lui magazine pictorial. [29]

The piercing process itself has been described as less painful than oftentimes expected.[30]
Nipple piercing procedure, from left to right:
(1) The tissue is clamped.
(2) Hypodermic needle in the piercing
(3) Jewelry (barbells) is inserted.

See also



  1. ^ Duerr, Hans Peter (1997). Der Mythos vom Zivilisationsprozeß. Vol. Der erotische Leib. Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main. ISBN 3-518-40855-0.
  2. ^ Horvath, Eddie (February 21, 2013). "Piercings". Diversity Studio. Archived from the original on March 13, 2016. Retrieved August 13, 2013.
  3. ^ Nipple Piercings, Male and Female Archived 2020-02-05 at the Wayback Machine - BMEzine
  4. ^ DeMello, Margo (2007). Encyclopedia of Body Adornment. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 204. ISBN 978-0-313-33695-9. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  5. ^ Patrick, Bethanne Kelly (2009). An Uncommon History of Common Things. National Geographic Books. p. 125. ISBN 9781426204203.
  6. ^ Hall, Lesley A. "Victorian Sex Factoids".
  7. ^ Vale, V.; Andrea Juno (1989). Modern Primitives. RE/Search. ISBN 978-0-940642-14-0.
  8. ^ Pitts, Victoria L. (2003). In the Flesh: The Cultural Politics of Body Modification. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-4039-7943-8.
  9. ^ Mayers, LB; Judelson, DA; Moriarty, BW; Rundell, KW (2002). "Prevalence of Body Art (Body Piercing and Tattooing) in University Undergraduates and Incidence of Medical Complications". Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 77 (1): 29–34. doi:10.4065/77.1.29. PMID 11794454. S2CID 1149443.
  10. ^ Lough, Kate (7 October 2015). "It's official, the nipple piercing is the new 'it' piercing - just ask Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid". Evening Standard.
  11. ^ a b Caliendo, Carol; Armstrong, Myrna; Roberts, Alden (2005). "Self-reported characteristics of women and men with intimate body piercings". Issues and Innovations in Nursing Practice. 49 (5): 474–484. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2648.2004.03320.x. PMID 15713179.
  12. ^ Chase, Kristen (25 July 2008). "An added benefit to nipple piercing". Mominatrix. Imperfect Parent.
  13. ^ Hudson, Karen L. "Nipple Piercing Questions and Answers". About.com. Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
  14. ^ Heiti, Harry (January 8, 2010). "Odd Body Piercings? Got a bunch to choose from". Official Spin. Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
  15. ^ Martin, Jahaan (June–July 1999). "Nipple Piercing: Is It Compatible with Breastfeeding?". LEAVEN. 35 (3). Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA: La Leche League International: 64–65. Archived from the original on 2012-06-04.
  16. ^ Deacon, Jane P.; et al. (June 24, 2009). "Association of Nipple Piercing With Abnormal Milk Production and Breastfeeding". Journal of the American Medical Association (letter). 301 (24): 2550–1. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.877. PMID 19549971.
  17. ^ Armstrong, ML; Caliendo, C; Roberts, AE (2006). "Pregnancy, Lactation and Nipple Piercings". AWHONN Lifelines. 10 (3): 212–7. doi:10.1111/j.1552-6356.2006.00034.x. PMID 16792708.
  18. ^ "Nipple Piercing And Breastfeeding - Are They Compatible?". Medical News Today. 22 July 2006.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Greenblatt, Anne; et al. "Nipple Piercings And Breastfeeding". Piercing FAQ. Stason.org.
  20. ^ "Breast Tattoos, Nipple Piercings and Breastfeeding". Pregnancy.org. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  21. ^ Hyakusoku, H.; Chin, T. (2006). "Usefulness of the nipple-suspension piercing device after correction of inverted nipples". Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 30 (4): 396–398. doi:10.1007/s00266-005-0018-z. PMID 16786205. S2CID 19088153.
  22. ^ Ubelacker, Sheryl (April 5, 2009). "Nipple Piercing May Have Led to Teenager's Death". The Globe and Mail. The Canadian Press. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  23. ^ Hill, E. D. (November 16, 2006). "The Good, the Bad and the Helpful..." Fox News. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  24. ^ "Nipple Piercings | Elayne Angel's Piercing Bible". The Piercing Bible. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  25. ^ Jacobs VR, Golombeck K, Jonat W, Kiechle M (2003). "Mastitis nonpuerperalis after nipple piercing: time to act". International Journal of Fertility and Women's Medicine (review). 48 (5): 226–31. PMID 14626379.
  26. ^ "Nicole Richie's Nipple Piercing Sets Off Alarm". Contactmusic.com Ltd. 16 July 2004.
  27. ^ "Aguilera Removes Famous Piercings". Contactmusic.com Ltd. 16 August 2004.
  28. ^ Thompson, Katherine (May 8, 2009). "Naked Rihanna! Nude Photos Hit Web – With a Nipple Ring". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  29. ^ "Rihanna Shows Pierced Nipple on Lui Cover [NSFW PHOTOS]". WGRD-FM. April 29, 2014. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
  30. ^ 9 Things People With Nipple Piercings Understand, Including How Worth It They Are - Bustle