Last month’s article discussed triangle piercings with a focus on suitable anatomy and proper placement. While writing it, I was reminded of the extraordinary amount of consultations I do for unfortunate women who have received VCH piercings that are improperly placed—sometimes disastrously so. Therefore, I’ve decided to address VCH piercings in this issue.
Disclaimer: This is not intended to teach anyone how to do a VCH piercing! Guidance under a qualified mentor is indispensable.
The vertical clitoral hood (VCH)i is by far the most popular piercing I do. I actually had a day in my career that was nothing but VCH piercings—22 of them, I believe! They can be extremely simple to perform, which is why it is even more upsetting to see so many women needlessly injured and scarred by inept practitioners.
The VCH is an attractive piercing in which the jewelry frames the clitoral hood and contacts the sensitive glans underneath it. This can result in more direct clitoral stimulation during sexual activities. Most women are anatomically suited to this placement, and since vulvas are shaped vertically, the piercing rests aligned with the body.
The primary anatomical consideration for the VCH piercing is sufficient depth to the hood, which is shaped like a small one-ended tunnel. A simple way to check this is the “Q-tip testii.” If you can fit the end of a de-fluffed, lubricated swab beneath the hood, then a piercing can be placed far enough from the edge for safety and viability.
Many women with shallower builds have flexible tissue that can be manually drawn down to “cheat” the piercing to be far enough from the edge of the hood. There must be at least 5/16” (8mm) of natural overhang present, and it is necessary to avoid excessive force or distortion while doing this manipulation.
Some women, especially those with a large or heavy pubic mound, may not have sufficient space for a threaded end to fit. Too much pressure on the jewelry can result in pain, scar tissue formation, and/or embedding of the top gem or ball. If there are any concerns, I suggest a 6mm medical-grade silicone disc be worn on the post, under the threaded end. If there’s no room for jewelry, you must decline. You must also refuse if you find a vein located in center of the hood that cannot be avoided—or choose an alternate placement, such as Princess Diana piercing(s)iii on the side(s) of the hood.
Finally, of course, you must be able to access the area to accomplish the procedure. Even if the hood is very recessed, when there’s satisfactory depth and space for jewelry, the piercing usually heals successfully.
I pierce a minimum of 3/8” (10mm) from the edge. If the piercing is shallower than that, there is a greater risk of migration and rejection/accidental splitting. You must not place a VCH beyond the natural fold line at the juncture where the hood meets the pubic mound, even if the “tunnel” goes deeper. The underside should be at the “apex” of the hood: the deepest point beneath.
Configurations in this region have tremendous variation, so it is important to perform a thorough assessment. To properly evaluate each build for optimal placement, view the hood in its natural resting position and with knees wide apart. Spread and release the hood tissue several times on malleable builds, as the topography sometimes changes. Check for a midline groove or ridge, and any extra folds or asymmetry. Note that whether the build is raised, flat, or recessed, the “midline” might not be in the center of the hood. If it is very pronounced, I may pierce in an off-center “midline.”
It is not uncommon that the tissue resting in the center between the outer labia is actually the left or right side of the hood itself, which only becomes apparent under close scrutiny. In these cases, sometimes it is best to pierce so that the upper ball or gem sits in this “negative space.” Otherwise the top end might not be visible or comfortable, and it would rest pressed up against one labium. In general, I attempt to make the piercing geometrically vertical, or for the top to be centered, when possible—but each client must be marked on an individual basis. It is vital to provide a mirror, show the proposed placement, and explain any issues before piercing.
One frequent problem is piercings that are too superficial—close to the edge of the hood. These won’t be as stimulating because less of the jewelry contacts the clitoris. And, importantly, shallow piercings have greater risk of migration and rejection or tearing out. Conversely, piercings that are too deep carry an elevated risk of excessive swelling and bleeding, puncturing vital anatomy, and nerve damage.
Surface piercings, in which the jewelry does not go under the hood are also rampant. They pass through much more skin than a properly placed VCH, have a longer healing time and a tendency toward migration, rejection, and scarring. Plus, they don’t touch the clitoris to add sensation.
The worst is when a receiving tube is placed under the clitoris instead of the hood, resulting in an unintentional glans piercing in which the hood is pierced to the clitoris. During consults, I see this agonizing blunder regularly!
I use lots of 14 and 12 gauge, depending on the inventory of the studio where I’m guest piercing. They both heal just fine, but 12 is superior for anyone who is rough on the area. I often use 3/16” balls or gems on the top, and 7/32” on the bottom. If the lower barbell end is overly large, (bigger than ¼”) this can cause pulling and discomfort, or even embedding.
Initial jewelry should be sized so that most or all of the bottom end shows at the opening of the hood. There is no need to add extra post length beyond this comfortable, aesthetic fit. Since only a small amount of tissue is pierced, plenty of the bar should simply be resting under the hood. A curved post conforms nicely to the area and has a bit of extra room without added length. Bezel- or ball-set gems are fine, but prong set pieces are not appropriate for this area.
I lift the hood and slide a small needle receiving tube to the deepest spot underneath. A tube that is overly large will be pushed back from the apex, and the piercing can end up too shallow. I favor an extremely secure three-finger hold around the end of the tube: the index and thumb of my receiving-tube hand, plus the pinkie of my piercing hand. On many women this tissue is so thin, you can see right through the hood to the tube beneath. I pierce through the mark into the tube, then follow with the jewelry in the same direction (or use a taper to insert a jeweled navel curve from the bottom).
Certain female genital piercings are located very close to the most concentrated collection of nerves on the human body and there is potential for a missed opportunity for enhancement, or a life-altering disaster. If you are unclear about exactly where a VCH, HCHiv, or triangle piercingv should go, then please do not pick up the needle.