Most men with genital piercings don't fit into the usual stereotype of bikers, druggies or Goths, researchers said Monday. In fact, most who responded to a survey are nearly middle-aged, middle class married men, according to an online study performed by researchers from Texas Tech University.
Men report many reasons for piercings, including increased sexual satisfaction, a need for rebellion and a desire for risk-taking. But they also endure a variety of complications, particularly infections and bleeding. About a quarter of men report that they have to urinate sitting down because urine sprays in all directions through the piercings. Other reported complications have included priapism (uncomfortably sustained erections), bleeding after sex, gangrene and loss of jewelry in female partners.
Because physicians are increasingly encountering medical problems linked to the piercings and there is little in the medical literature about them, sociologist Alden Roberts of Texas Tech and urologist colleagues designed a survey which, with the aid of a master piercer, they posted on several piercing websites. They reported in the British Journal of Medical Practitioners that 445 men from 42 states and 26 countries completed their questionnaire.
Among those who responded, the average man was 31 years old, white, heterosexual, college educated and earned more than $36,000 per year.
-- 89% identified themselves as Caucasians;
-- 41% were married and another 20% lived with a significant other;
-- 56% reported a salary of more than $45,000 per year;
-- 28% said they had a strong religious faith;
-- 82% said they were heterosexual;
-- 87% said they didn't use drugs;
-- 74% said they had at least some college, and 20% had a graduate or doctoral degree.
Many of the respondents said they had solicited advice from piercers and the Internet before obtaining their piercings.
As with any survey of this type, there are obvious questions about who responds. As the authors noted, it may be biased because only those who strongly favor piercings or are strongly opposed may respond. It may also be that middle-aged white men are the most likely people to respond to such surveys and that there is, indeed, a large subculture of the pierced that matches the stereotypes. Perhaps a more efficacious approach would be to simply sit in a piercer's lair and see who comes in.
-- Thomas H. Maugh II / Los Angeles Times
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