Safety and Risks of Penis Piercings

Some guys think that body piercing, including penis piercing, is pretty cool. Perhaps you're even one of them. If you're healthy and you're sure this is what you want, then there's no reason you shouldn't go for it. But first, learn how it should be done safely, and make sure you don't put your health at risk.

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Where to Go

It's important that your piercing is done by a professional with a good reputation, preferably someone who's been recommended to you. He or she will be able to advise you on the correct size jewelry, and how to care for the piercing.

Sterilized and clean premises are extremely important for avoiding transmission of a number of serious, potentially life-threatening diseases. In no instance should you try piercing your own penis! You could place the piercing incorrectly, or even give yourself an infection.


Penis piercing is a simple procedure. A needle punctures the skin, and then the bar or ring is put through the opening made by it. The piercing can be through the foreskin, the skin on the shaft of the penis, the scrotum, or the head of the penis. It must not pierce straight through the shaft of the penis, as this could cause serious damage to the erectile bodies or urine channel (urethra).

If you decide you do not want a piercing anymore and remove it, there's a good chance the hole will never close. If it does, it will probably leave a small scar.


The most important care involves keeping the piercing clean in order to avoid infection. Please keep the following in mind:

  • Do not remove the piercing while the wound is healing.
  • Keep the wound clean.
  • Watch out for signs of infection or allergy.
  • When having sex, wear a large, sturdy condom that has room for your jewelry and will not tear.

Common Problems

The following problems can occur after penis piercing:

  • Allergic reactions to jewelry. A rash on the area surrounding the piercing may mean that you are allergic to the metal. Surgical grade steel, titanium, gold or platinum are usually non-reactive. The easy fix is to purchase and use jewelry made from a higher grade of metal.
  • Infections. Urinary infections or semen infections can sometimes occur, which can impair your fertility or ability to urinate. Signs and symptoms include a burning sensation when you urinate, frequency, urgency, and occasionally, blood in the urine. In addition, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and hepatitis C are blood-borne diseases that can be caught from unsterilized needles. If you have any symptoms of infection, see a healthcare provider.
  • Redness and soreness at the site of the piercing are common when you first have it done, but may also be a sign of infection at the piercing site. If this problem persists, see a healthcare provider.
  • Bleeding. A small amount of bleeding is normal at the time of the piercing and should stop when a little pressure is applied. If the piercing has been incorrectly positioned, it may cause problems. If your bleeding persists or gets worse, see a healthcare provider.

Who Shouldn't Get a Penis Piercing

If you are diabetic you have a higher risk of infection, so see your healthcare provider first.

People of Asian, Hispanic, and African descent are more susceptible to keloid scarring, a type of abnormal scarring that goes beyond the original site of the skin injury. If you have Asian, Hispanic, or African heritage, consider avoiding all types of body piercing and tattoos.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Holbrook J, Minocha J, Laumann A. Body piercing: complications and prevention of health risksAm J Clin Dermatol. 2012;13(1):1-17. doi:10.2165/11593220-000000000-00000 

  2. University of Michigan. Body art: What you need to know before getting a tattoo or piercing. University Health Service. 2019.

  3. Meltzer DI. Complications of body piercing. Am Fam Physician. 2005;72(10):2029-2034.

  4. Antoszewski B, Jedrzejczak M, Kruk-Jeromin J. Complications after body piercing in patient suffering from type 1 diabetes mellitusInt J Dermatol. 2007;46(12):1250-1252. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4632.2007.03372.x 

  5. Madu P, Kundu RV. Follicular and scarring disorders in skin of color: presentation and management. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2014;15(4):307-321. doi:10.1007/s40257-014-0072-x 

Additional Reading

By Jerry Kennard
 Jerry Kennard, PhD, is a psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society.