Dear Dr G,
I am a 24-four-year old university student who reads your column on a regular basis and I hope you can help me to answer some "strange" questions.
My girlfriend recently talked to me about a "Prince Albert piercing", and mentioned how sexy she finds it.
Following the initial conversation, she has asked me to think about doing this myself.
I know nothing about genital piercings and am rather horrified at the thought of some jewellery hanging on my manhood.
However, since I love my girlfriend a lot, I will consider the piercing.
What is a "Prince Albert piercing", what is the origin and how is it performed?
I am uncircumcised. Will I need to be circumcised if I choose to have a piercing?
Is the piercing purely an accessory or are there sexual benefits?
Are they really uncomfortable? Can it be regularly removed?
And finally, sorry to put Dr G on the spot, but is it true that a piercing will set off the metal alarm detector at the airport?
Should I pierce or not? Please advise.
The association of Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria in 19th century Britain, to genital piercings is largely unknown.
Sexual health historians who studied documents from the era found that the practice was uncommon among Victorian gentleman.
It also revealed Prince Albert to be uptight about sexual matters and unlikely to have gone for something kinky.
American body piercer Jim Ward and businessman Doug Malloy is the duo is known for the contemporary rise of genital piercings in modern times.
Malloy published a pamphlet in the '70s which concocted fanciful historical tales of Prince Albert having the piercing to "tame" his large asset in his tight trousers.
Since then, the story and the association have widely been circulated as an urban legend.
The practice of Prince Albert piercings specifically refers to "a ring style piercing that extends along the underside of the glans penis, from the urethral opening to where the glans meet the shaft of the penis".
The reverse Prince Albert piercing is a "piercing traversing the urethral and exits through a hole at the top of the glans”.
Although piercings are done for circumcised men through the frenulum in the midline, the off-centre practice for uncircumcised men with surrounding skin is common.
There is no robust medical evidence to support the enhancement of sexual performance in men having genital piercings.
However, some anecdotal reports suggest the placement of piercings such as apadravya and ampallang (both are piercings passed through the head of the penis vertically or horizontally) heighten the sensation for female partners.
However, many reports also highlight discomfort to female partners, when the piercing comes in contact with the cervix.
Initially, a piercing is done with a small diameter piercing (2.5mm). This is followed by a gradual stretch soon after for jewellery insertion with the larger diameter up to 9mm.
Some piercers may choose to have the immediate stretch to accommodate wider rings in the first setting.
Such practices may, however, risk delayed wound healing.
Generally, the healing time for genital piercings can range from one to six months, and mild complications such as bleeding, swelling and local inflammation may be expected.
The jewellery suitable for piercings may include circular barbells, curved barbells, captive beads or a Prince's wand.
Of course, the choice of jewellery can range from stainless steel to implant grade titanium or solid 18 karat gold, depending on your personal preference.
Most wearers find genital jewellery comfortable at all times and rarely remove them. This, of course, depends on the weight and size of the jewellery and the manhood.
One of the worries faced by body piercers is when your travel companions, unaware of your penchant for piercings, suddenly discover your embarrassment during an unplanned disclosure at the airport security screening.
In most instances, non-ferromagnetic jewellery will not be set off by a walk through metal detectors.
However, hand-held wands are often more sensitive and can sound the alarm when screening directly over the body part!
Dr G is often put on the spot to answer the question: To do or not to do?
Although, the idea of genital piercings may seem completely bonkers to some, piercings have been known to bring pleasure and trust to couples in their intimate moments.
The advice Dr G can provide to our readers on whether to pierce or not to pierce is don't be pressured and only do it if you are ready and comfortable with the idea.
> The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.