The penis is one of the most sensitive areas of the male body and allows men to experience the pleasure of sex in all its glory. There may be times in which the penises sensitivity feels too intense, resulting in early ejaculation. While feeling highly sensitive can be normal, when an individual experiences a lack of penile sensitivity there may be cause for concern.
When a person experiences reduced or total loss of sensitivity in their penis, they could be experiencing penile numbness. This can reduce their ability to get or maintain an erection and have a harsh impact on their sex life.
If you’re experiencing a numb penis, it’s only natural to feel concerned and curious about the situation. This article may have some of the answers to your questions, as we explore what penile numbness is, why it occurs and what you can do about it.
What is a numb penis?
A numb penis is when there is a reduction or absence of sensitivity in a person's penis. Penile numbness may affect the sensations experienced when the penis is touched. A lack of penile sensitivity during stimulation could lead to the inability to maintain erections, creating subsequent difficulty in leading a healthy sex life.
Symptoms of numb penis
The main symptom of a numb penis is noticing that your penis feels as if it’s ‘gone to sleep’. However, there are a few other symptoms you may notice which are as follows:
Reduced Sexual Pleasure
Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Main causes why your penis might go numb
Identifying the root cause of penile numbing may settle your curiosity and help to identify treatment options. This might prove challenging as there are a number of causes for penile desensitization. We’ve highlighted some of the most common causes of a numb penis below.
Testosterone is a hormone often associated with manliness and aggression. However, its presence in the male body is a little more sophisticated. The hormone plays a role in the depth of a man's voice, their body hair (or lack of it) as well as contributing to sexual development. It’s normal for testosterone levels to vary from one man to the next, providing their level sits somewhere in the healthy range.
This is a condition in which the testicles don’t produce enough testosterone.
However, individuals who don’t produce enough testosterone may develop Male Hypogonadism. This is a condition in which the testicles don’t produce enough testosterone. The condition can lead to erectile dysfunction, which may leave an individual unable to maintain an erection and even lose penile sensation.
Peyronie’s Disease (PD)
People who experience penile deformities or curvature may find that they’re suffering from Peyronie’s disease. It’s thought that Peyronie’s disease can develop as a result of penile trauma, resulting in the development of scar tissue known as plaque. When this occurs, the physical appearance of the penis can change and curvature may develop.
Surgical treatment is an option for PD, but one that comes with a risk of complications.
One of the risks of the procedure is that individuals may end up with penile numbness. A study examined penile sensory changes following plaque incision and grafting surgery for PD. It found that 21% of participants had penile sensation loss at 1 week (and the same at 1 month). However, at 12 months this had dropped to 3% with only 1.5% experiencing sensation loss at 2 years.
Although penile injuries can cause short-term pain, they may lead to lasting damage. Penis injuries may lead to complications such as Peyronie’s disease and even penile numbness. Due to the external nature of the male genitalia, the penis can be injured during things like sports, workplace accidents and traffic collisions. It’s also worth noting that penile injuries can occur during sex and masturbation.
Penis injuries may lead to complications such as Peyronie’s disease and even penile numbness.
A study questioned 40 patients after they had experienced a penile fracture. It found that while 35 (87.5%) respondents experienced no further complications, three patients complained that they experienced numbness. It’s worth mentioning that penile injury may lead to other conditions that cause penile numbness. For example, a penile fracture could result in Peyronie's disease and penile numbness could be a consequence of PD surgery.
Riding a bike is a great way to feel the wind on your face and improve your fitness. However, one of the less desirable effects of cycling is the potential genital numbing it can cause. The pelvic region takes most of an individual's body weight and is compressed against a bike seat. Cyclists often cover long distances and individuals may spend several hours in the seated position during a ride.
The contribution of cycling to genital numbness is well documented. One research study carried out a survey that examined risk factors for sexual dysfunction amongst 1635 male cyclists, 63% of which had been cycling for over 10 years. The survey found that 57% of participants experienced genital numbness. It also found that 22% of respondents experienced erectile dysfunction, with 30% reporting genital pain.
Modern medicine allows individuals to effectively manage complex conditions that they otherwise couldn’t. However, drugs are often associated with non-desirable side effects, many of which can affect an individual's erectile function and even cause penile numbing.
Examples of drugs that result in a numb penis include those used for managing hair loss and mental health conditions.
Finasteride is a drug that’s often prescribed for preventing hair loss. A study explored the effects of 25 subjects using finasteride for androgenetic alopecia. It found that 60% of them reported genital pain or numbness after starting finasteride. Other drugs known as SSRIs are used to treat depression and anxiety. A publication claims that nearly 100% of takers experience some degree of genital sensory change within 30 minutes of taking the drug. It likened the numbing effect of SSRIs to the impact of rubbing lidocaine (a topical anesthetic) on the genitals.
Nerve damage (also referred to as peripheral neuropathy) can affect various parts of the body. Individuals who suffer from peripheral nerve injury may find that the condition has a large impact on their quality of life. Patients may experience a range of effects from minor discomfort to more severe life-long impairments. One of the potential effects of nerve damage is a loss of penile sensation.
The penis's dorsal nerve is a branch of the pudendal nerve. Damage to the nerves that serve the genitalia may result in complications, with penile numbness being a possible outcome. For example, a condition known as pudendal nerve entrapment can cause numbness and dysfunction in the genitalia.
Sitting For Too Long
Whether you spend long periods driving, relaxing in front of the TV, or working an office job you may find yourself sitting for long durations during your day. You might have heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking” and while the two habits can’t be compared, the phrase conveys a clear message - extended sitting is likely to cause harm to our bodies.
Sitting for too long may also affect the genital function of men.
There’s growing evidence suggesting that prolonged sitting is associated with musculoskeletal disorders, some research suggests sitting time contributes to up to 3.8% of mortalities. However, sitting for too long may also affect the genital function of men. One study suggests that there is a positive association between sitting (9 hours per day) and severe erectile dysfunction.
In the most severe cases, risks of surgery can include life-limiting side effects or even death. Certain surgeries may harm an individual's erectile function with penile numbing a potential risk. Radical prostatectomy (RP) is a type of surgery that’s carried out to treat prostate cancer and one that can affect genital function.
Certain surgeries may harm an individual's erectile function with penile numbing a potential risk.
A study explored the erectile function of 26 patients who were eligible for undergoing RP. Participants' erectile function was measured using the International Index of Erectile Function questionnaire. Their penile sensation was also evaluated electrophysiologically. It concluded that patients who had RP have reduced penile sensation, due to cavernous nerve damage and possible injury to the penis's dorsal nerve.
Treatments for a Numb Penis
It’s important to acknowledge that penile numbness occurs for many reasons, therefore there’s no universal way to treat the condition. The effectiveness of a specific treatment option will depend on what caused the numbness. With that said, here are a few treatment options that could help with the symptoms of a numb penis.
Post-surgery Penile Numbness
Resting may help an individual recover from a numb penis. For example, the study we discussed in the Peyronies disease section found that 21% of participants had lost penile sensation a month after surgery. However, after 12 months this figure dropped to just 3% and to 1.5% after two years.
Resting may help an individual recover from a numb penis.
Although these figures suggest that individuals recover over time, it’s unclear whether rest alone was the contributing factor. A doctor should always be consulted to advise on the best course of action should penile numbness occur after undergoing surgery.
Penile Numbing Due to Lifestyle Factors
An individual's lifestyle can have an impact on their genital function. For example, sitting for too long may reduce their erectile function. If this is a result of a job, taking regular breaks to stand up or investing in a standing desk may help to address the issue.
An individual's lifestyle can have an impact on their genital function.
In other circumstances, a person's hobbies may result in penile numbness. An example of this is the susceptibility of cyclists to suffer penile numbing. Investing in an ergonomic bike seat, taking regular breaks, or spending less time cycling may help to reduce the symptoms of penile numbing.
Numbness as a Side Effect of Medication
Given that drug use may result in penile numbness, making changes to an individual's medication may help to treat the condition. For example, individuals who use finasteride to target hair loss may find that they value their erectile function more than their hair. This could lead them to withdraw from taking the drug under medical supervision.
A doctor's guidance is crucial for confirming that the medication is causing your penile numbness.
People who take SSRIs as a treatment for mental health conditions such as depression can consult their doctor to make them aware of the penile numbness. The doctor may recommend an alternative medication, in an attempt to avoid genital numbness. Always seek professional medical advice before making changes to your medication. A doctor's guidance is crucial for confirming that the medication is causing your penile numbness.
Penile numbing due to low testosterone
Given that testosterone deficiencies such as hypogonadism may result in damaged erectile function, individuals who experience such deficiencies may benefit from addressing them. Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is an example of a treatment that can be used to bring an individual's testosterone levels up to a healthy range.
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) is an example of a treatment that can be used to bring an individual's testosterone levels up to a healthy range.
Research has noted the benefits of normalizing an individual's testosterone levels, which include increased erectile function and libido. However, it also notes that the treatment option may be ineffective for individuals who underwent radical pelvic surgery or have severe neurologic damage. This is because a hormonal deficiency may not be the primary cause of their damaged erectile function.
Penile numbness occurs when individuals feel like their penis has ‘gone to sleep’ or experience a pins and needles-like tingling. Penile numbness can have a severe impact on sexual capability and negatively affect a person's sex life. A numb penis can be caused by a variety of factors including health, lifestyle habits or medical procedures.
If you believe you are suffering from a numb penis, always consult a doctor for guidance.
As debilitating as penile numbness may be, treating the condition is possible. Some treatment options include addressing medical issues, resting and changing lifestyle habits. If you believe you are suffering from a numb penis, always consult a doctor for guidance. Although the information in this article is intended to be informative it cannot be considered a substitute for professional medical advice.
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