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Understanding Nipple Piercing

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Authored by Rodney Southern in Body Arts
Published on 03-22-2009

Many people believe that the first instances of nipple piercing in civilized cultures began in Rome. Roman soldiers were thought to have pierced their nipples so that they may be able to hang their capes from them. There is no proof of this occurring and there are frequent debates over this theory.

It wasn’t until the middle of the 14th century that women began to experiment with nipple piercing and modifications. Nipple piercing was first introduced into upper class society by Queen Isabeau of Bavaria who was among the first of prominent women to have their nipples pierced. At the time, the women in high society wore garments that were cut to the navel displaying vast amounts of cleavage. Shortly thereafter women began displaying their nipples freely and nipple enhancement became all the rage. Nipple enhancement had various degrees ranging from cosmetics to enhance the color of the nipple, to the actual piercing of the nipple.

Nipple piercing was a fashion trend that seemed to come and go, and found itself in the limelight again in the Victorian period. Women in France realized that when the nipple was pierced it remained erect. French women realized that having constantly erect nipples was more sexually appealing to their husbands. Nipple piercing was also praised for its ability to enlarge the size of nipples. Piercing of the nipples is also believed to prevent them from inverting. Nipple piercing is still celebrated today for these reasons.

Nipple piercings can be done at any angle from vertical to horizontal. Each nipple is capable of bearing multiple piercings based on the size of the jewelry used as well as the nipple itself. Jewelry commonly used for nipple piercing include barbells (a straight steel bar with beads on each ends), or hoops with captive beads. (Captive beads are considered such as they are held in place by pressure) Hoops tend to be more practical for women as they tend not to snag as easy on bras or other articles of clothing. Men who are getting their nipples pierced can use either jewelry although it is more common for men to settle on a barbell.

Nipple piercing is done like any other body piercing, with a needle. The person performing the piercing will prep the nipple with an alcohol pad to deter the possibility of infection. Once the alcohol has dried, the piercer will then mark the area to ensure that it is straight. Once the piercer has determined that the pierce will be straight the act takes its course. A sterile needle of appropriate gauge (14 for men, and 16 for women is standard) is then pushed through into a cork. Jewelry is then pushed through with the needle still in place.

These are the ins and outs if you will in regards to piercing. Your piercer should instruct you as to properly caring for your new nipple piercing. Nipple piercings can take anywhere from 2 months to 1.5 years to fully heal. Understanding nipple piercing will help to alleviate any anxiety caused from the fear of the unknown.

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