Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 11/17/22
Physical stimulation is a vital component of healthy, pleasurable sex. If you’ve noticed that your penis isn’t as responsive to touch as it once was, it could be a sign that you’ve lost sensitivity in your penis.
Loss of penile sensitivity can occur for a range of reasons, from hormonal issues to the way you masturbate (seriously). Like other sexual issues, it’s often an embarrassing issue to talk about — a key reason why many men are as quiet as church mice about this common problem.
But that doesn’t mean it’s okay, and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t seek the help you need if you find it difficult to enjoy sex due to a lack of penis sensitivity.
The good news is that loss of sensitivity in your penis, like other forms of sexual dysfunction, is very much treatable, often with simple changes to your habits and lifestyle.
Below, we’ve explained what loss of penile sensitivity is, as well as the many ways in which this widespread sexual health issue can develop.
We’ve also discussed everything you need to know about how to increase penis sensitivity, with nine techniques and options that you can use to promote sensitivity in your penis, enhance your sexual performance and enjoy more pleasurable, satisfying sexual experiences.
As a man, your penis is generally the one thing you can always count on to be there and ready for action whenever you need it, and, when you’re younger, sometimes when you don’t need it at all.
When this trusted and reliable friend lets you down, “troubling” may not begin to describe what you feel in response.
The ability to respond to physical stimulation is an important part of a healthy penis. When you experience sexual sensations, your nervous system responds, causing the blood vessels near your penis to expand and increase the level of blood flow to your erectile tissue.
This increase in blood flow is what allows you to develop and maintain an erection when you’re ready for sexual activity, such as penetrative sex.
Lacking sensation in your penis could mean different things for different people. In some cases, it may be caused by a medical condition that affects nerve function and sensitivity in your penis, such as diabetes or injury-related trauma to your penis.
In other cases, it could occur as a result of a hormonal issue that affects your libido and level of response to sexual stimulation.
For some men, a lack of feeling in the penis may be as extreme as feeling “numb,” or lacking all sensation. For others, it might simply mean feeling slightly less during sex, or finding it difficult to reach orgasm from penetrative sex alone.
Understanding exactly what you’re experiencing when you describe a lack of penile sensitivity is an important step towards unpacking what could be causing your problems, as well as how you can improve your penis sensitivity and sexual response.
Regardless of the cause, a lack of sensation in your penis can be an incredibly frustrating issue to deal with, especially if it’s a new experience for you.
Sexual sensitivity plays a major role in helping you feel aroused and allowing you to experience sexual pleasure. When you have a numb penis, or just feel less sensation than before, you may be more at risk of sexual performance issues such as erectile dysfunction (ED).
If you’re still able to get and maintain an erection, diminished penis sensitivity could also make it more difficult for you to reach orgasm during sex.
These issues can take a serious toll on your sexual self-confidence, and even potentially lead to mental health conditions such as depression or sexual performance anxiety.
A variety of issues can either cause or contribute to a less sensitive penis. These include certain lifestyle factors, medical conditions, medications you use or just everyday habits and aspects of the way you have sex.
Stress can have a serious impact on your body. It can also produce a range of negative effects on your sexual function and performance, including changes in your level of interest in sex and your ability to engage in sexual activity.
For example, research has found a clear link between anxiety, depression, stress and changes in natural chemical production that can cause issues like erectile dysfunction.
Stress can also affect your ability to relax in bed, which might make you less feel responsive to sexual contact.
Furthermore, stress is associated with an increase in hormones such as cortisol, which reduce your body’s production of testosterone. This could reduce your penis’s sensitivity to touch and your level of interest in sex — a topic we’ve discussed more below.
Testosterone plays a critical role in your sexual function as a man. If you have low testosterone, you may find it difficult to get an erection or notice that your response to sexual stimulation isn’t as strong as it was before.
Your levels of testosterone usually drop as you age. However, it’s far from uncommon for men in their 20s, 30s or 40s to also suffer from clinically low testosterone levels.
In addition to age, issues like injury to your testicles, certain illnesses and problems with thyroid function can all affect your testosterone production and potentially have an impact on your level of response to sexual stimulation.
Our guide to low testosterone goes into more detail about warning signs that your testosterone levels might be lower than normal.
To some extent, a decrease in penile sensitivity seems to be part of the aging process for many men.
According to research published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, delayed orgasm — an issue in which men find it difficult or impossible to orgasm from penetrative sex — is more common in men above the age of 50.
The authors point to an age-related reduction in penis sensitivity as one potential cause of this increase in difficulty reaching orgasm.
Some diseases and medical conditions, such as diabetes, can affect nerve function throughout your body, including the nerve endings in and around your penis.
This may cause a decrease in penis sensitivity and affect your ability to become aroused from sexual contact. For example, research suggests that men with diabetes and ED have different response patterns to penile stimulation than healthy men.
Certain medications, including several widely-used prescription drugs, can reduce your level of penis sensitivity. This lost sensitivity may result in erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation and other sexual function issues.
For example, antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are linked to a higher risk of developing delayed orgasm — an issue that can occur as a result of low penile sensitivity.
Other medications linked to delayed orgasm include antipsychotic drugs and opioids, which are often used for pain management.
Penile sensation depends on proper nerve functioning. Injuries that affect this part of your body can potentially hinder the delivery of pleasure messages from your penis to the nerve receptors inside your brain.
Some injuries to your penis, including sporting injuries and complications from surgery, can lead to nerve damage and reduced sensitivity.
For example, injuries from treatments for prostate cancer and bladder cancer can cause erectile dysfunction due to changes in penile blood flow and your response to sexual stimulation.
Yes, there is such a thing as masturbating too much, as well as masturbating with a technique that can affect your level of penile sensitivity during sex.
Floating around the internet as “death grip syndrome,” this condition is controversial. However, scientific literature suggests some men find it easier to experience pleasure and orgasm when masturbating than when having sexual encounters with a partner.
Other research has found that this may affect penis sensitivity. For example, one review article published in the World Journal of Men’s Health noted “vigorous masturbation styles” as one of several factors that may contribute to delayed ejaculation or inability to ejaculate.
Put simply, if you get used to orgasming alone — particularly if you have a strong grip or tend to masturbate vigorously — you might notice that your penis feels less sensitive during penetrative sex.
Finally, maintaining a sedentary lifestyle, meaning a lifestyle with lots of sitting down and little in the way of exercise, may affect your level of penis sensitivity and sexual function.
Being inactive can increase your risk of dealing with several distinct forms of sexual dysfunction, including ED. It’s also associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which can affect blood flow and nerve function.
If you’ve noticed that sex doesn’t feel as physically pleasurable as it should, or that you struggle to reach orgasm in a normal amount of time, it’s best to let your healthcare provider know.
Low penis sensitivity is almost always treatable, usually with a few simple changes to your daily habits, lifestyle and sexual techniques.
Below, we’ve shared nine actionable tips and techniques on how to increase penis sensitivity to help you improve your sexual function and enjoy a more satisfying sex life.
If you want to feel more from your penis, you may need to rethink how you have sex. One of the easiest ways to increase male sensitivity is to create a little extra friction. While some lubrication is good when getting down to business, too much can hamper sensitivity.
If you normally use lube, try either reducing the amount that you apply or skipping lube entirely the next time you have sex. You may find that natural lubrication gives you a more responsive, sensitive experience that makes reaching orgasm easier.
Changing the position you’re having sex in can increase friction and spice things up. When your partner’s body moves, the way your genitals connect changes, which could make you more sensitive down there.
Try having your partner put their legs together, lie on their stomach, or get into a totally different position to see if this increases your level of sensation and makes sex more pleasurable.
More specifically, stop sitting in the wrong places. Any time you sit down without your buttocks fully supporting your weight, or any time there’s significant pressure on your perineum, you risk compressing the pudendal nerve, which transmits sensations from your genitals to your brain.
If your sitting position causes pain in your lower abdomen, try adjusting the way you sit so that there’s more pressure on your buttocks and less pressure on your perineum. Even simple tasks, such as getting up every now and then, may help to ease pressure and prevent nerve pain.
One habit that can put serious pressure on your pudendal nerve is cycling, especially cycling for a long period of time on a bike with a thin seat.
If you’re a cyclist and notice that your penis doesn’t feel quite as sensitive as normal after going for a long ride, try taking a break. Alternatively, try to go for shorter rides with a more supportive seat to put less pressure on your genitals and surrounding nerves.
If you notice that your lack of penile sensitivity is mostly during sex with a partner and not when you masturbate, it might be worth taking a break from masturbation for a while.
Try taking a one-week break from masturbating, meaning you can only reach orgasm when you have sex. If you don’t want to stop masturbating, try lightening your grip so that you don’t put as much pressure on your penis to see if it still feels pleasurable.
This technique is especially important if you practice “idiosyncratic” masturbation methods that feel very different from penetrative sex. Try taking a break or loosening your grip to see if your real-life sexual performance improves.
If you’re prescribed any type of medication and think it might be affecting your penis, it’s best to let your healthcare provider know.
Many widely-used medications that can cause sexual dysfunction also have alternatives, letting you switch if your sex drive or sexual function has declined since starting treatment.
Depending on your specific medical needs, your healthcare provider may suggest switching to a different medication or adjusting your dosage so that you can enjoy better performance in bed.
Low testosterone can have a serious impact on your sex drive, as well as your level of response to sexual stimulation. It can also cause other physical problems, such as difficulty concentrating, sleep issues and changes in your body composition.
If you think low testosterone could be causing or contributing to a drop in erogenous sensitivity, let your healthcare provider know. They can check your testosterone levels and, if appropriate, prescribe testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) or a related form of treatment.
Sometimes, the symptoms of erectile dysfunction are easy to mistake for signs that your penis is less sensitive. For example, if you have erectile dysfunction, you may find it hard to respond to sexual contact, as your penis lack the blood flow to become firm and enlarged.
These medications work by increasing blood flow to your penis when you feel sexually aroused, making it easier for you to enjoy pleasurable sex with your partner.
We offer a range of evidence-based treatments for ED online, with medication available after an online consultation with a healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
If you think you’re less interested in sex or less responsive to sexual arousal because of stress or anxiety, taking part in therapy might help.
Several forms of therapy are used to treat chronic stress and severe anxiety, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Talking to a therapist can help you to identify what’s causing you to feel stressed, then take action to change harmful thought processes and behaviors.
When it comes to penile sensitivity, there’s a lot riding on it. Aside from the obvious — namely, your sexual health and function — loss of sensitivity in your penis is all too often a symptom of other health issues that may require the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Luckily, you’re here. You found the answers you were looking for on how to increase your penis sensitivity and you’re ready to consider next steps.
If a lack of sensitivity in your penis is beginning to affect your sexual performance, try using the techniques above to improve blood flow, restore nerve function and get things back in order.
Alternatively, if you think that your sexual function issues are linked to erectile dysfunction, you can access help online using our range of erectile dysfunction medications.
Finally, if you don’t notice improvements in your penile sensitivity after making changes to your habits and lifestyle, let your healthcare provider know. They’ll be able to identify what’s causing your issues and recommend the most appropriate and effective form of treatment.