What Is a Jacob’s Ladder Piercing? Here’s What You Should Know

If there’s one thing you want to protect more than anything else, it’s your penis. The mere thought of a sharp object down there probably makes you cringe. Which is why it may surprise you to learn that there are plenty of guys who get not just one piercing in their penis, but multiple.

There are a variety of penis piercings, with one of the most popular being the Prince Albert (a piercing toward the head of the penis). Another popular request is a frenulum piercing, or a piercing of the little strand of tissue between the head and the shaft. Some guys may also request a Jacob’s Ladder, a series of piercings up the underside of the shaft that creates a ladder-like appearance. (Here’s a very, very NSFW link.) Jacob’s Ladder piercings are fairly extreme, even among body modification enthusiasts. But some guys swear they can improve sex for them and their partners.

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Needless to say, there are a few risks involved, including infection and pain during intercourse. “When it comes to piercings, tattoos or any form of body manipulation it is a personal choice and decision. From a medical standpoint, when taking into account piercings on your penis you have to make sure its not putting you or your partner at risk,” Jamin Brahmbhatt, MD, urologist at Orlando Health and Assistant Professor at UCF College of Medicine, tells MensHealth.com.

Still have questions? We talked to Club Tattoo Tempe piercers and Association of Professional Piercing (APP) members Plaid Weyer and Nicolas Moses about what it’s really like to get a Jacob’s Ladder piercing.

This interview has been condensed and edited for length and clarity.

MensHealth.com: What is the procedure for getting a Jacob’s Ladder piercing?

PW: A Jacob’s Ladder is a collection of frenum piercings, each frenum being a rung of the ladder. So first we’ll discuss how many piercings you’re looking to get. Some people prefer to start with one to get their feet wet, while others will sit for as many as they can. I will typically do two to three in a sitting. If you’re looking to do more, we can schedule another set a month or two out. The more piercings you do at once, the longer the healing time required.

Once we figure out how many piercings you want, I’ll check your anatomy and make sure there’s enough room on there. Then pick out your jewelry (typically, a 12 or 10-gauge titanium barbell with a little extra length to accommodate swelling). I’ll sterilize your jewelry while you’re filling out your paperwork. Once you enter the room, you’ll have a seat on the exam table and pull out your penis. I’ll clean the area with a surgical scrub and then make some marks with gentian violet [a topical antiseptic] on a disposable toothpick. Once I’m comfortable with the marks, I’ll have you look. When we’re both happy with the placement, I’ll pierce you.

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MH.com: Does a person’s anatomy — penis size, for example — impact how the piercing is done?

PW: While anatomy doesn’t affect how the piercing is done, it will affect jewelry length and the number of frenum piercings one can achieve. A thicker penis will require longer jewelry. Length will dictate how many frenum piercings, or ‘rungs’ of the ladder, [the piercer can do]. Some men may only be able to get two or three, while others can accommodate upwards of 10.

“Some men find this to be a very pleasurable piercing to have, and for their partners it can also be pleasurable. But that’s very subjective.”

MH.com: How often do people come in requesting a Jacob’s Ladder piercing?

NM: Recently, there’s been a pretty noticeable uptick in people who are at least interested in it, and about half to two-thirds of people will follow through with it. It seems to be becoming more mainstream and acceptable to have one or multiple…whereas in the late 70s and early 80s it was very taboo.

MH.com: How long does it take to heal?

PW: Everyone’s healing time is going to vary, but on average, four to six weeks. The initial jewelry is going to be long, to give room for swelling and healing. It’s recommended to downsize around 8-12 weeks. It’s generally recommended to take a few months off of sexual contact. When you decide you feel comfortable enough to get back into it, start slowly, and if you feel any discomfort, stop immediately. Also, if you’re engaging in sexual activity during the heal period, make sure to wear protection. A healing piercing is an open wound for all intents and purposes. Any blood-to-blood contact rules should apply.

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MH.com: How does a Jacob’s Ladder compare to other piercings in terms of pain?

NM: A Jacob’s Ladder is [one] of the easier ones to perform in terms of complexity and placement, and [it is viewed] as an easier one to deal with on the pain scale. However, your mileage may vary, as pain is wildly subjective. Some men find this to be a very pleasurable piercing to have, and for their partners it can also be very rewarding. But again, that’s very subjective and your mileage may vary.

MH.com: How does having this piercing affect someone’s sex life?

PW: During sexual intercourse, you’ll feel extra sensitivity to the underside of the shaft. For your partner, it’s comparable to a more extreme version of a “ribbed” condom.

MH.com: What should you do before getting your penis pierced?

NM: Your first thought when choosing a studio should be how clean it is. Are all employees up to date on blood-borne pathogens and CPR training? Do they have an autoclave [a machine used for sterilization] and how often do they monitor it? What’s the piercer’s antiseptic technique like? What types of jewelry and jewelry materials do they carry. These all are things that should be asked. The piercer should also check your anatomy and refuse to do any piercing that won’t fit you or your lifestyle, or poses a serious complication to your health. The Association of Professional Piercers is a resource that can help you find a reputable location near you that meets all of this criteria.

MH.com: Is there anything else you think guys should know about penis piercings?

NM: Well, in short, it’s not for everybody. But in my experience, breaking out of the norm and trying something new can bring on a boost in confidence… As far as piercings go, no matter what, there are always risks involved, so do your due diligence and seek only reputable piercing for the best possible outcome.

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