Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Dangers of Body Piercing Below the Belt

Loyola Obstetric and Gynecology Expert Reports on Risks of Genital Piercings

MAYWOOD, Ill. - While men can rely on that little, blue pill to improve things in the bedroom, women are turning to more extreme measures to enhance sexual intercourse.

"Genital piercings are on the rise in women looking to stimulate the clitoris during sex," reports Sarah Wagner, MD, instructor, obstetrics and gynecology, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and obstetrician and gynecologist, Loyola University Health System (LUHS). "While this phenomenon may be growing, genital piercings can cause serious health complications, and women should be aware of the risks."

Locations for genital piercings in women include the clitoral hood (the tissue above the clitoris), the clitoris, the inner and outer labia and the perineum. Genital piercing is unregulated in many states, making it difficult to ensure that body piercing professionals practice good hygiene and proper sterilization techniques.

"Genital piercings can be particularly problematic, if the piercing is not done or cared for properly," said Wagner. "The most common issues associated with genital piercings are infections, which can be life-threatening, if left untreated."

Other problems that can arise from genital piercings include the transmission of viruses, such as hepatitis B or C. Additional complications include bleeding, redness, swelling, pain, scarring, disfigurement and tissue trauma. This type of piercing also can pose a problem during childbirth due to its proximity to the birth canal.

"Intuitively, we know that childbirth can be complicated by a genital piercing," said Wagner. "We ask our patients to remove these piercings prior to delivery in order to prevent obstructions and to protect themselves and their babies."

Women who choose to pierce their genitals despite the risks should practice good hygiene and be up front with their health care providers about their hidden piercings.

"Patients should alert their health care providers about genital piercings in the event that they have to undergo an emergency surgery or magnetic resonance tomography (MRI) procedure where the piercing would have to be removed for the safety of the patient," said Wagner. "Physicians also should familiarize themselves with genital piercings and the issues that can arise from this growing trend."


About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.