Field of Science

TMI Friday:...And the mystery of the lost piercing

So let's start this month of "TMI Fridays" focussing on women by talking about penis piercings !
Let us consider the Prince Albert. The legend goes that Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, was rather generously endowed, and as a result required a ring piercing on the end of his member in order to prevent it slipping down his trouser leg. This was meant to explain why Queen Victoria forced him to make so many children with her despite the fact that she despised them. As a result of this urban legend, many young men have also adopted this piercing.

 It is because of this kind of penis piercing that a 20-year old psychology student decided to admit herself into A&E in 2004, in spite of not having any visible symptoms.
Earlier that day she had been intimate with her boyfriend, who possessed a Prince Albert piercing on his manhood. However, during the course of their intimacy, they found that the genital piercing had been lost. Here we come to the central mystery. Where did it go ?

They assumed that it had been unfastened in the student's vagina, and this is why she went to A&E immediately. The Doctors examined her vagina, but it was perfectly healthy and there was absolutley no sign of the piercing. The couple insisted that it was somewhere in the vagina, and the physician performed an X-ray to appease them..
To his surprise, the piercing was found to be high up in the pelvis. So the attendant physician decided that it would be necessary to perform major surgery to remove the Prince Albert ring from her.
But then the couple were seen by another physician, who asked them an important questions about whether the couple had utilised any other orifices for intercourse. It turned out that they had performed oral sex in the course of their intimacy. This was the key to the mystery.

You see, whilst the pelvis of a lady contains their vagina, it also contains their digestive tract. The physicians realised that their initial examination of the patient's vagina was correct. The ring wasn't there. The ring had been accidentally swallowed during oral sex, and had ended up in the intestine. The reason it appeared on the X-ray was that it was working its way though the gut. The piercing would pass naturally through the gut without causing any problems. To the relief of the couple, no invasive surgery would be needed.
Another X-ray performed a week later confirmed that it had passed without incident, and was discharged.
This is another example about how being open and truthful with your doctors can prevent you needing invasive surgery, and other stories have shown what happens when people are too embarrassed to do this.

Das G., Rawal N. & Bolton L.M. (2005). The Case of the Missing “Prince Albert”, Obstetrics & Gynecology, 105 (Supplement) 1273-1275. DOI:

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