Savage Love: Sticking Points 

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I am a 30-year-old trans guy, on T since college, happy and comfortable with my sexuality. However, I can't find any helpful health info on a fetish I've developed: I insert needles directly into my clit, maybe an inch and a half in. I'm not talking through it, like a piercing, but into it, going in at the head and moving down into the shaft. There are lots of porn/BDSM sites that discuss piercing all sorts of "female" anatomy, and many that cover the excitement of needles inserted into the glans of the penis, but few go into details about putting needles directly into the clit itself—and none that I've found cover safety. As a trans man, this is a particularly tempting practice because, well, my clit is huge and I have a constant legal supply of safe, sterile needles. Still, I want to know if I am potentially causing permanent nerve damage. I'd like to keep my clit healthy and happy for future use! If one of your connections in the medical world has a sense of this, I'd love to know.

Sticking Things In Clit Knowledgeably

Yours is the kind of letter that gets me in trouble, STICK.

Clit-having readers and clit-loving readers will be doubling over on the subway, in office cubicles, in the bathrooms aboard Air Force One—wherever my column is read, people will be doubling over. And I will spend the next week wading through furious e-mails from angry/clueless readers convinced that your letter's appearance in my column will lead to a worldwide clit-sticking boom.

Allow me to address their concerns first: That's not the way this works, that's not the way any of this works. People don't adopt sex practices or kinks after hearing about them. If that were the way it worked—if hearing about a crazy kink inspired otherwise vanilla types to run out and try it—we would all be shoving gerbils in our asses. (We've all heard of gerbiling. No one has ever done it. Case closed.)

Okay, STICK, I worked my medical-world connections and found someone who wasn't just qualified to answer your question, but also willing to do it on the record.

"Piercing and needling, if practiced in a safe and sterile manner, can be stimulating," said Dr. Brian Fitzsimmons, a gynecologist in Vancouver, BC, (obgynvancouver.ca) and a clinical associate professor at the University of British Columbia. "But permanent damage with needling can occur to the sensory receptors that allow us to experience pleasure and stimulation."

So the short answer to your question, STICK, is this: Yes, you are risking permanent damage.

"There may be immediate risks with needling, such as bleeding and infection, in addition to long-term side effects," said Dr. Fitzsimmons. "And potential long-term side effects are especially concerning in regards to very sensitive areas such as the glans of the penis or the clitoris. Short-term stimulation and excitement with needling has the potential to cause permanent damage, chronic discomfort, and numbing of these areas. Permanent scarring and deformation can also occur. This is something that may not be correctable—even with surgery."

Some adult pleasures come with built-in risks—skydiving, snowboarding, clit-needling—and an adult does a quick risk-reward analysis before deciding if the potential reward (thrills, powder, orgasms) is worth the risk (faulty parachutes, ski-resort food, permanent damage). It's your clit, STICK, and you'll have to weigh the risks and rewards for yourself. But you won't find me sticking needles in my clit.

"If orgasm is mediated by the clitoris or the glans of the penis in the individual," said Dr. Fitzsimmons, "this practice can cause loss of the ability to achieve orgasm."

In other words: Anyone who requires clit/dick-head stimulation in order to get off—and that's pretty much everyone with a clit and/or dick head—shouldn't be sticking needles into their clit/dick head.

A final thought from Dr. Fitzsimmons: "If you're engaging in this type of practice, it's important not to share needles, just like with any other sex toy. The risks of transmitting infections such as HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, and other STIs need to be considered. Anyone having more questions on this or experiencing complications or problems should contact their local clinic or health-care provider."

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