Nipple Piercing

I recently contributed an article about nipple piercing to a great website called Previously I'd let them post information I'd written about female genital piercings. You can find the nipple piercing article here, and for convenience it is reprinted below:

Nipple Piercing

The contrast of metal jewelry through the flesh of a nipple is truly exotic and striking. Nipple piercing defines the region, frames the tissue, and makes the nipple stand at attention (though it doesn’t necessarily cause the nipple to remain erect at all times). Prior to the early 1990s, when navel piercings became popular, nipples were the most prevalent location for body piercings. Modern piercing enthusiasts—particularly in the gay and SM subcultures—explored the erotic potential of their bodies and started what has become the current style of nipple piercing. These days, people from all walks of life are experiencing the delights of this piercing. For some, it is simply an aesthetic preference or fashion statement; for others it reigns as a favorite in the realm of sexual and sensual pleasures.

Female Nipple Piercing with Barbell Female Nipple Piercing with Barbell, and Tattooed Areola

Nipple Piercing: Placement and Choice of Jewelry

Virtually all adults’ nipples—even tiny flat ones—are pierceable if they are pliable. Whether you prefer the angle of your piercing to be horizontal, vertical, or somewhere in between, it will work best if it is placed in the natural creases of your tissue. Depending on the shape of your chest, the “horizontal” placement may be more visually appealing if the outer side is placed just slightly higher than the inner side. This will barely tilt the ring up at a slant that frames the area nicely. A true horizontal placement can look a little droopy at the outer edge, depending on the angle and shape of the breasts or pectoral muscles. If you have well-developed nipples, the piercing should be placed in the creases at the base of the nipple where it rises from the areola. If your nipple is defined with substantial height, the piercing can safely go in as little as 5/16 inch of tissue. If you have flat nipples, the piercing should encompass a minimum of 3/8 inch of tissue when the area is relaxed. If your nipples are relatively featureless, without an elevated tip, the tissue in the visual center of the nipple should be pierced so that the jewelry will rest evenly within your areola. (The piercing routinely extends into the areola, especially on men, but this is still considered a nipple piercing.) If you have elliptical or odd-shaped areolas, it is sometimes best to cheat one side of the piercing a little further from the tip of your nipple in order to have the ring appear more centered in the pigmented area. If you want a pair of piercings and you have large, protruding nipples that are uneven in size, is it sometimes best to pierce at the natural base of each nipple rather than making one piercing shallower (or deeper) in an attempt to make them match.

Double Female Nipple Piercing Double Female Nipple Piercing with Captive Bead Rings, and Tattooed Areola


Nipple Piercing: Tightness Is Normal

Many piercees worry that something is wrong with a nipple piercing because the jewelry won’t move easily. Nipple tissue is normally tight; the jewelry will seldom swing freely even in a piercing that is many years old. You must pay attention to your body; if the piercing feels too tight, go easy on it. See “Catching the Tube,” page 214, for an explanation of the damage that can result from forcing your jewelry to move.

Nipple Piercing and Breastfeeding

Many pierced women express concerns about breastfeeding, but there does not appear to be any evidence that nipple piercings negatively affect the ability to breastfeed. A normal female nipple has a multiplicity of up to twenty porelike milk ducts, rather than a single spout. Therefore, a nipple piercing of ordinary size and uneventful healing won’t block them all. The ability to nurse could be impaired if a troubled nipple piercing causes excess scarring. When jewelry is removed from a well-healed nipple piercing, some colostrum or milk might seep or flow from the empty channel.

Courtesy of Elayne Angel, and The Piercing Bible: The Definitive Guide to Safe Body Piercing (Random House/Crossing Press, May 2009). For much more information on nipple and other body piercings, visit: