When a person loses some or all of the feeling in their penis, it has become numb.
The penis contains many nerve endings, and it is usually very sensitive. Numbness can occur when a person sits in a certain position for a long time. It can also result from low testosterone levels, another health issue, or an injury.
People should see their doctor if their penis or testicles have become numb for no apparent reason.
In this article, we look at what can cause numbness in the penis and how to regain sensitivity.
The penis has become numb when a person cannot feel sensations that they usually would, including feelings of touch or stimulation.
Symptoms of numbness can vary from person to person. For some, it feels similar to an arm or leg falling asleep. Others may feel as though the circulation to the area has been cut off.
Some people with numbness report feeling very little stimulation, while others feel nothing, even from heavy stimulation.
Other symptoms can accompany numbness, depending on the underlying cause. These symptoms can include:
- a loss of sensation in the testicles, perineum, or the skin around the penis
- a burning or tingling, needle-like feeling
- coldness in the penis or testicles
- blue or purplish skin
What causes a numb penis?
A number of issues can lead to a loss of sensation, and some activities and lifestyle factors can increase the risk.
The following can cause numbness in the penis:
An injury on or around the penis can cause it to become numb. This can result from damage to certain nerves or blood vessels.
Usually, sensitivity will return in time. If it does not, speak to a doctor.
The following can lead to pressure or injury to the penis or groin area:
- Riding a bicycle. The bumps and friction of the road can injure the perineum, testicles, and penis. Cycling can also place pressure on the groin and temporarily restrict nerves or blood vessels, leading to penile numbness.
- Sitting for too long. Sitting on uncomfortable or unpadded chairs for long periods can put enough pressure on the penis or perineum to result in injury. The perineum should not support the weight of the body.
- General irritation. Soaps and other hygiene products are more likely to irritate the sensitive skin on and around the penis. Using gentle, hypoallergenic soaps can help.
- Friction from tight clothes. Tight or rough underwear can irritate the penis, causing an itchy or tingling sensation. This kind of clothing can also cause redness, especially around the tip of the penis.
Sex- or masturbation-related injury
During sexual activity, the erect penis is not flexible. This rigidity can put the penis at risk for fracture or bruising, which can cause pain, irritation, numbness, and changes in color.
Vigorous or excessive friction from masturbation and other types of sexual activity can also cause injury that leads to numbness. If a person notices a reduction in sensitivity, it may help to cut back or try different forms of masturbation.
Damage can also result from using a pump, which sucks blood into the penis to achieve an erection. Numbness, bruising, cuts, and red or purple spots called petechiae may appear on the skin.
Penis rings can help some people with erectile dysfunction, but overuse can lead to bruising and other types of damage.
Testosterone is an important hormone with wide-ranging effects, including a role in regulating muscle mass and sex drive. After puberty, testosterone levels gradually decline, and many older adults have low levels.
However, low testosterone can also affect younger people.
When testosterone levels drop, a person may notice a reduction in pleasure from sexual activity. As a result, they may mistakenly believe that their penis is numb.
Low testosterone can lead to numbness, but usually not when it comes to pain, so a person would still feel it if the penis or scrotum were pinched, for example.
Other symptoms of low testosterone can include changes in mood, sex drive, and energy levels.
Problems with the nerves in the area can cause numbness in the penis, testicles, and perineum.
A number of health issues can affect the nerves and result in numbness. An individual may experience this numbness in the lower body and groin area.
Some of these issues include:
- multiple sclerosis (MS)
- cancer and its treatment
- vascular disease
Peyronie’s disease is a less common cause of penile numbness.
A buildup of scar tissue, called plaque, within the penis characterizes this disease. The scar tissue can be less sensitive than regular penile tissue, and some people experience desensitization or numbness.
The prostate plays an important role in the reproductive system. It produces the fluid that carries sperm and helps to push out the fluid during ejaculation.
Damage to the prostate, from a tumor, for example, can lead to numbness, tingling, and other changes in the penis.
Also, a person may urinate more frequently than usual or have trouble urinating, among other symptoms.
Treatment for a numb penis
When numbness results from injury, it will usually heal with the injury.
When an underlying condition is responsible for the numbness, treating or managing the health issue will usually resolve this symptom.
The following methods can help to alleviate penile numbness:
Changing lifestyle habits
Because sitting in certain positions or on hard, uncomfortable furniture can cause numbness, a doctor may recommend:
- taking short breaks throughout the day
- standing whenever possible
- adjusting the sitting position
- changing chairs
For cyclists, using a different bicycle seat can help to prevent pain and numbness around the groin after long-distance rides.
Altering the angle of the seat can also cause it to absorb more of the shock and pressure from the road.
A doctor will usually prescribe medication to treat long-term medical conditions, such as diabetes, MS, and Peyronie’s disease.
Monitoring and controlling blood sugar levels can relieve symptoms in people with diabetes, who may need to take additional medication to prevent nerve damage. In advanced cases, diabetes can result in serious nerve damage known as diabetic neuropathy.
People with Peyronie’s disease can take medication that breaks down the scar tissue and collagen forming in the penis. This should control their symptoms.
Raising testosterone levels
A person with low testosterone may require hormonal treatment, which can come as pills, injections, or patches. Only take hormones with the guidance of a doctor.
Numbness in the penis often results from an injury to the groin area. A person may sustain such an injury from vigorous sex, a long bike ride, or trauma.
Treatment is usually relatively simple. Resting the penis can provide relief from common injury-induced numbness.
If the numbness stems from a chronic condition or nerve disorders, the outlook may vary, but it is usually good.
If symptoms persist after treatment, see a doctor. A person may have to try several techniques or treatments before finding one that works.
Can masturbation make a person lose sensation in their penis?
Excessive or vigorous masturbation can lead to a perceived loss of sensation. Hyperstimulation can reduce the sensitivity of the penis and cause a person to increase the force that they use during masturbation, which can make the issue worse. This can also lead to delayed orgasm or an inability to orgasm, which is called anorgasmia. Some treatments for this include changing the masturbation technique, for example by altering the method or frequency, and adding other sources of stimulation.
-Daniel Murrell, MD
Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.