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Have you ever had an idea that was absolutely crazy but you wanted to try it anyway? That’s how I feel about piercings. I’ve never really been into tattoos but from the time I was eleven, I’ve always admired piercings. From rooks and snakebites to dermals and gauges, I’ve considered them all as potential ornamentation.

My most recent crazy idea is to get my nipples pierced, and my reasons for doing so are pretty normal. I’ve always felt self-conscious about my chest; with Kate Upton and Katy Perry being the standards for a “nice rack,” it’s easy to feel underwhelming without a Wonderbra. I want my nipples pierced because I am ready to embrace my body as beautiful just the way it is without hiding behind the smoke and mirrors of fancy lingerie. HOWEVER, for any other women looking to get their nipples pierced, there’s definitely not enough research you can do before you take the plunge. So to make it a little easier for us all, I’ve compiled some information regarding nipple piercings and its pros and cons.

The Cons: The good, the bad and the ugly.

Pain. The first thing anyone says to me when I say I want my nipples pierced is “won’t it hurt?” The answer is yes. You are sticking a piece of metal through a very sensitive area. However, is it unbearable? According to one reviewer on reddit’s GirlSurvivalGuide, “I found that only the actual needle going through hurt, and then almost nothing.” Soreness is understandable post-piercing adrenaline, but you can use nursing pads to cover your nipples to cut down on rubbing as you go throughout the healing process as well as ice packs, ibuprofen or other over the counter pain relievers.

The healing process. According to tattoos.about.com, “The less aggravation your piercing undergoes, the quicker the healing time will be. It should only take about 6-8 weeks.” It’s important to avoid pulling or touching the piercing as it heals. If the piercing is disturbed during the healing process, it can take as long as up to a year. Like other major piercings, you should soak the piercing in a sea salt mixture (typically 3 oz. water to 1/8 teaspoon of salt) twice a day. Further helpful cleaning instructions can be found here.

Exposing yourself. Just because your nipples are pierced does not mean you should feel obligated to show people. If you want to—rock it out! Otherwise, the only person who needs to see your nipples is the person piercing them. Even then, wearing a button down allows you to expose one at a time if that makes you feel better about the procedure.

Free the nipple!

Possibility for infection. If you are sexually active, it is SO important that your partner knows not to touch or put their mouth on your piercing until it’s healed. Generally though, infection shouldn’t be a problem as long as you take care of the piercing properly. If you’re concerned at all about infection, contact the piercing professionals or your doctor.

“Crusties.” During the healing process, your body will secrete fluids to help. However, these often dry on the surface and lead to “crusties” which are essentially a looser version of scabs. DO NOT PICK AT THE CRUSTIES; you can wash them away easily when you clean the piercing. Even after the piercing has mostly healed, it’s still possible for crusties to form and to be an unsightly presence, but typically crusties aren’t an issue after the healing process is complete.

*Also: As advised by the staff at Pregnancy.org and the affiliated medical professionals: you should take your piercings out if you’re nursing/breast feeding. If the piercing is completely healed there’s no risk of infection to you, but it makes it hard for the baby to latch on and loose jewelry poses a choking hazard for your baby. 

The Pros:

Increased sensation. Some individuals with pierced nipples maintain that they have an increased sensitivity in their nipples post-piercing. This can be really appealing once your piercing heals, as it can add an interesting and new twist to your sex life as well as a fun little secret to share with your partner.

Increased milk flow. Some mothers with piercings have reported increased milk flow during lactation, which can improve the breastfeeding experience. Note: there is not necessarily increased milk duct activity, just the possibility for increased flow.

Rejection. Although nipple piercings are technically surface piercings, the likelihood of your body rejecting the piercing is fairly low! Stay away from nickel and know your allergens. If you’re still wary, it never hurts to get a second opinion from a health professional.

Increased self-esteem. Almost all people with nipple piercings get them because they like the way they look. The look is the most appealing part of the piercing! If you like the way it looks, it’s a fun way to feel more confident about your body in general.

The hole can close. If you don’t end up liking the piercing you can allow the hole to close. Most people report minimal scar tissue and other complications, according to the reviewers at the reddit forum GirlsSurvivalGuide. This is good news for those who end up with buyer’s remorse.

At the end of the day, the choice is yours. For further information, it’s best to contact a health professional or even schedule a consultation with the parlor where you plan to get your piercing. It’s SO important to find a reputable location that supports sanitary piercing practices and good aftercare instructions. Additionally, because most medical professionals aren’t exactly fans of piercings in general, a lot of the information provided above is from personal experiences with nipple piercings and should not be taken as medical advice. I hope any potential nipple piercers found this helpful!

Image credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

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