Prince Albert (genital piercing)

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Prince Albert
JewelryCircular or curved barbell, captive bead ring, Prince's wand, segment ring
Healing4 weeks to 6 months

The Prince Albert (PA) is a penis piercing which extends from the urethra to the underside of the glans.[1] It is one of the most common male genital piercings.[2] The related reverse Prince Albert piercing enters through the urethra and exits through a hole pierced in the top of the glans.[3]

While some piercers may choose to avoid the nerve bundle that runs along the center of the frenulum altogether, others may choose otherwise.[4] The piercing can be centred if the bearer is circumcised. Otherwise, the piercing must be done off-centre so that the surrounding skin can reposition itself.[5]

Prince Albert piercing plus scrotal ladder of BCRs, pubic piercing and tattoo.


The piercer usually starts by pushing a metal or glass tube down the urethra, or using their fingers to hold the urethra open. The piercer then slides the needle into the frenulum and goes up the tube, using pliers to bend the ring into shape.[6][better source needed]

Healing and potential side effects[edit]

The Prince Albert healing time can take from 4 weeks[5] to 6 months.[2] A fresh PA piercing may cause bleeding, swelling and inflammation.[7][8] In rare cases, it can lead to local infections.[9] Some men find that the dribble caused by the PA when urinating necessitates sitting down to urinate.[10] With practice, some men can control the stream while standing.[11]

Some PA wearers report it enhances sexual pleasure for both partners.[1] However, others penetrated by males with this piercing report discomfort.[12] PA rings can cause additional discomfort to female partners in cases when the penis comes into contact with the cervix.[13] Sexual partners of those with piercings may experience complications during oral sex such as chipped teeth, choking, foreign bodies getting stuck between the partner's teeth, and mucosal injury to receptive partners.[14]

As with many piercings, there is a risk of the jewelry becoming caught on clothing and being pulled or torn out.[4] Very large gauge or heavy jewelry can cause thinning of the tissue between the urethral opening and the healed fistula, resulting in accidental tearing or other complications with sexual experiences.[15] Conversely, extremely thin jewelry can cause the same tearing in what is commonly referred to as the "cheese cutter effect", either during sudden torsion or over a long period of wearing, especially if the thin jewelry bears any weight.[5]

Prince Albert piercing with curved barbell jewelry
PA piercing with prince's wand jewelry
4g (5mm) segment ring in Prince Albert piercing


Prince Albert piercings are typically pierced at either 12 or 10g (2 or 2.5mm)[5] or up to 5mm (4g) or a safe maximum of 6mm (2g). They are often (gradually) stretched soon after, with jewelry within the 8g to 00g (3mm to 8mm) range being the most popular. One of the reasons not to perform the initial piercing at a small diameter (16g or 14g) or otherwise to immediately stretch it to 10g or 8g using a taper is to prevent the 'cheese-cutter effect',[5] although personal preference and individual anatomy also play a role in these decisions.[citation needed]

Further stretching to sizes 0 or 00g (8 or 9mm) and larger is not fairly common.[5] If a sufficiently heavy barbell or ring is worn continuously, a mild form of 'auto-stretching' can be observed.[5] This means that stretching to a larger gauge is easier and might not require a taper.[citation needed]. While stretching, it's critical that there is 12 mm of tissue between the piercing hole and urethra to avoid splitting of the urethra with complications.

While most wearers find that PAs are comfortable to wear and rarely remove them, even during sex, some individuals have found that extremely large or heavy jewelry is uncomfortable to wear for long periods or interferes with the sexual functioning of the penis.[citation needed]

Jewelry suitably worn in a Prince Albert piercing includes the circular barbell, curved barbell, captive bead, segment ring, and the prince's wand. Curved barbells used for PA piercings are worn such that one ball sits on the lower side of the penis and the other ball sits at the urethral opening. This type of jewelry prevents discomfort that can come from larger jewelry moving around during daily wear.[citation needed]

History and culture[edit]

The origin of this piercing is unknown. Many theories suggest that the piercing was used to secure the penis in some manner, rather than having a sexual or cultural purpose.[4] Genital piercings appeared in the Kama Sutra as a way of enhancing sexual pleasure.[16]

In modern times, the Prince Albert piercing was popularized by Jim Ward in the early 1970s.[17] In West Hollywood, Ward met Richard Simonton (aka Doug Malloy) and Fakir Musafar. Malloy published a pamphlet in which he concocted fanciful histories of genital piercings in particular.[18] These apocryphal tales—which included the notion that Albert, the Prince Consort invented the piercing that shares his name in order to tame the appearance of his large penis in tight trousers—are widely circulated as urban legend. No historical proof of their veracity has been located independent of Malloy's assertions.[19]

Like many other male genital piercings, it had a history of practice in gay male subculture in the twentieth century.[20] It became more prominently known when body piercing expanded in the late 1970s and was gradually embraced by popular culture.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Winks, Cathy; Semans, Anne (2002). The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex: The Most Complete Sex Manual Ever Written, p. 274. Cleis Press, ISBN 978-1-57344-158-2
  2. ^ a b Gage, Simon; Richards, Lisa; Wilmot, Howard; and Boy George (2002). Queer[permanent dead link], p. 159. Da Capo Press, ISBN 978-1-56025-377-8
  3. ^ Komisaruk, Barry R.; Whipple, Beverly; Nasserzadeh, Sara; Beyer-Flores, Carlos (2009). The Orgasm Answer Guide, p. 118. JHU Press, ISBN 978-0-8018-9396-4
  4. ^ a b c Melissa Owens. "5 Facts About A Prince Albert Piercing Procedure". Made Man. Archived from the original on 31 August 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Angel, Elayne (2009). The Piercing Bible, pp. 156–159. Random House, ISBN 978-1-58091-193-1
  6. ^ Scott, Ellen (27 April 2018). "What is a Prince Albert piercing?". Metro. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  7. ^ De Cuyper, Christa; Cotapos, Maria Luisa (2010). Dermatologic Complications with Body Art: Tattoos, Piercings and Permanent Make-Up, p. 47. Springer, ISBN 978-3-642-03291-2
  8. ^ Aaron, Michele (1999). The body's perilous pleasures: dangerous desires and contemporary culture, p. 170 Edinburgh University Press, ISBN 978-0-7486-0961-1
  9. ^ Richens, John (2004). Other conditions of the male genital tract commonly seen in sexually transmitted infection clinics. In Adler, Michael W.; Cowan, Frances ABC of sexually transmitted infections, p. 21. John Wiley and Sons, ISBN 978-0-7279-1761-4
  10. ^ Stark, John; Hopkins, Will; Baumann, Mary K. (2008). The Dictionary of Love, p. 218. HarperCollins, ISBN 978-0-06-124213-7
  11. ^ Hudson Karen L. (2009). Living Canvas: Your Total Guide to Tattoos, Piercings, and Body Modification, p. 180. Seal Press, ISBN 978-1-58005-288-7
  12. ^ "Has anyone ever had sex with someone who had a prince albert piercing? - Discussion". 13 December 2012.
  13. ^ Vale, V.; Juno, Andrea (1989). Modern primitives: an investigation of contemporary adornment & ritual. Re/Search Publications, ISBN 978-0-940642-14-0
  14. ^ Greenberg, Michael I. (2005). Greenberg's text-atlas of emergency medicine, p. 448. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, ISBN 978-0-7817-4586-4
  15. ^ Nelius T, Armstrong ML, Rinard K, Young C, Hogan L, Angel E (November 2011). "Genital piercings: diagnostic and therapeutic implications for urologists". Urology. 78 (5): 998–1007. doi:10.1016/j.urology.2011.05.066. PMID 22054364. S2CID 44339720.
  16. ^ Laumann, Anne (2009). "1: History and Epidemiology of Tattoos and Piercings". In de Cuyper, Christa; Cotapos, Maria Luisa (eds.). Dermatologic Complications with Body Art: Tattoos, Piercings and Permanent Make-Up. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 4. ISBN 978-3-642-03292-9. Retrieved 8 September 2022.
  17. ^ Ferguson, Henry (1999). "Body Piercing". BMJ. 319 (7225): 1627–9. doi:10.1136/bmj.319.7225.1627. PMC 1127091. PMID 10600973.
  18. ^ Angel, Elayne (2009). The Legacy of Doug Malloy. In The Piercing Bible, p. 16. Random House, ISBN 978-1-58091-193-1
  19. ^ Rutty, Guy N. (2004). Essentials of autopsy practice: recent advances, topics and developments, p. 163. Springer, ISBN 978-1-85233-541-0
  20. ^ a b (Porterfield 2003)


  • Porterfield, Amanda (2003). Gary Laderman; Luis D. Leon (eds.). Religion and American Cultures: an Encyclopedia of Traditions, Diversity, and Popular Expressions. Vol. 2. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-57607-238-X.

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