While men can rely on that little, blue pill to improve things in the bedroom, women are turning to more extreme measures to enhance sexual intercourse.
"Genital piercings are on the rise in women looking to stimulate the clitoris during sex," reports Sarah Wagner, MD, instructor, obstetrics and gynecology, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and obstetrician and gynecologist, Loyola University Health System (LUHS). "While this phenomenon may be growing, genital piercings can cause serious health complications, and women should be aware of the risks."
Locations for genital piercings in women include the clitoral hood (the tissue above the clitoris), the clitoris, the inner and outer labia and the perineum. Genital piercing is unregulated in many states, making it difficult to ensure that body piercing professionals practice good hygiene and proper sterilization techniques.
"Genital piercings can be particularly problematic, if the piercing is not done or cared for properly," said Wagner. "The most common issues associated with genital piercings are infections, which can be life-threatening, if left untreated."
Other problems that can arise from genital piercings include the transmission of viruses, such as hepatitis B or C. Additional complications include bleeding, redness, swelling, pain, scarring, disfigurement and tissue trauma. This type of piercing also can pose a problem during childbirth due to its proximity to the birth canal.
"Intuitively, we know that childbirth can be complicated by a genital piercing," said Wagner. "We ask our patients to remove these piercings prior to delivery in order to prevent obstructions and to protect themselves and their babies."
Women who choose to pierce their genitals despite the risks should practice good hygiene and be up front with their health care providers about their hidden piercings.
"Patients should alert their health care providers about genital piercings in the event that they have to undergo an emergency surgery or magnetic resonance tomography (MRI) procedure where the piercing would have to be removed for the safety of the patient," said Wagner. "Physicians also should familiarize themselves with genital piercings and the issues that can arise from this growing trend."