Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/27/2020
Your penis is full of nerve endings, making it one of the most touch-sensitive parts of your entire body.
During sex and masturbation, it’s this sensitivity that allows you to enjoy pleasurable sensations and eventually reach orgasm and ejaculate.
Although it’s generally uncommon, from time to time your penis might feel less sensitive than it normally does. In some cases, your penis may even feel numb, making sex a significantly less enjoyable experience than normal.
When your penile numbness is severe, you may even find it difficult to develop and maintain an erection.
A variety of things may cause your penis to feel numb, from medications like antidepressants to sports such as cycling. Sometimes, health-related factors, such as low testosterone or illnesses, may also play a role in reduced penile sensitivity.
Below, we’ve gone into greater detail on the symptoms you may experience if you have a numb penis, as well as the factors that often cause numbness. We’ve also explained what you can do to treat numbness and bring your penis’s sensitivity level back to normal.
Dealing with a numb penis can be a frustrating experience. You may notice that your penis feels less sensitive to touch. When severe, penile numbness may severely affect your ability to get an erection and enjoy sex.
The precise symptoms of penile numbness can vary in type and severity. You may notice one or several of the following symptoms:
Loss of feeling in your penis, or a “pins and needles” sensation. Your penis might feel less responsive to touch than normal. It might feel unusually cold or have a tingling, pins and needles sensation.
Reduced sexual pleasure. Because your penis is less sensitive, you might find sex or masturbation less pleasurable. In some cases, you may feel nothing when your penis is touched, or during penetrative sex.
Erectile dysfunction. Because your penis is less sensitive, you may find it more difficult to get and keep an erection during sex or masturbation.
Delayed orgasm or anorgasmia. You may take a longer amount of time than normal to reach orgasm and ejaculate during sex. In some cases, you might not be able to achieve orgasm at all due to reduced sensitivity and sexual pleasure.
There are several possible causes of a numb penis. Some men may experience numbness after an injury or compression to the penis, while others may develop genital numbness as a result of certain medications or diseases.
If your penis is injured or compressed for a long period of time, you may notice that it feels less sensitive than normal. In some cases, your penis may feel completely numb.
Your penis can be injured during certain types of surgery, including some medical procedures to treat prostate cancer and in some cases trauma to the perineal region.
Some sports and exercises can also cause your penis to feel numb. For example, cyclists often experience penile numbness and erectile dysfunction, particularly those that ride long distances on a frequent basis.
In a study from 2001, 70 percent of cyclists tested using an electrode device showed a reduced level of blood supply to the glans of the penis during active exercise. 61 percent reported some level of numbness, with 19 percent of long-distance cyclists reporting erectile dysfunction.
Although cycling is arguably the most infamous sport for penile numbness, other sports that put pressure on your perineum might also cause a loss of sensitivity. Even sitting down in a position that puts extra pressure on your penis may temporarily cause numbness.
Low testosterone, which affects almost 40 percent of men 45 or older, may cause a reduction in the sensitivity level of your penis.
Low testosterone is also linked to a range of other sexual symptoms, including reduced erection quality, lower levels of sexual interest, reduced feelings of pleasure during sex and difficulties or delay in reaching orgasm.
Some diseases, medical conditions and medications may cause your penis to feel less sensitive than normal.
Diseases and medical conditions that affect your nerves, especially the nerves in your groin and lower body, may cause you to develop numbness in your penis and testicles.
A large variety of diseases and medical conditions can cause nerve damage, including diabetes, autoimmune disorders such as lupus, metabolic disease, thyroid conditions, poor blood flow and certain forms of cancer.
Some nerve damage from diseases and medical conditions can be reversed. However, in some cases, disease-related nerve damage is difficult to treat or permanent.
Other medical conditions may reduce penile sensitivity by affecting the tissue of your penis. For example, Peyronie’s disease -- a condition in which the penis can become curved -- can cause scar tissue to develop on the penis, which may cause discomfort and affect sensitivity.
In addition to diseases and medical conditions, some medications may cause you to experience reduced sensitivity in your penis.
Several different types of medications can cause penile numbness. For example, numbness is a known side effect of certain antidepressants, as are other sexual side effects such as a reduced level of sexual excitement and difficulty reaching orgasm.
Selegiline, a medication used to treat Parkinson’s disease, is also known to cause a reduction in penile sensitivity.
Most cases of penile numbness can be treated by addressing underlying conditions, modifying your use of medication or making other changes to your habits and lifestyle:
Treat underlying medical conditions. If you have a disease or medical condition that may affect your penis’s sensitivity level, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about your treatment options.
Many diseases and medical conditions that cause penile sensitivity loss can be treated, improving both your general wellbeing and your sexual health.
Increase your testosterone production. If your penile sensitivity issues are caused by low testosterone, your healthcare provider may work with you to bring your testosterone levels back up to normal.
This may involve testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) or other methods to increase your testosterone production. Our guide to increasing testosterone goes into more detail on the techniques you can use to improve your hormonal health.
Switch medications. If you’re prescribed a medication that’s associated with a loss of penile sensitivity, reach out to your healthcare provider and make sure they’re aware of your issues.
For certain types of medication, switching from one drug to another can lower or get rid of sexual side effects. For example, many people prescribed antidepressants get fewer sexual side effects when they start using medications such as bupropion.
For others, your healthcare provider may recommend adjusting your dosage or making other changes to your medication usage.
Avoid sports and activities that cause penile numbness. Sports like long-distance cycling are infamous for leading to penile numbness and other crotch injuries, such as saddle sores.
If you’re a cyclist, try temporarily reducing your cycling distance to see if this improves your symptoms. You may also want to consider using a broad bicycle seat, which may be less likely to reduce blood flow to your penis and testicles while you ride.
Consider using ED medication. Although ED medications like Viagra® (sildenafil) and Cialis® (tadalafil) won’t treat penile numbness, they may make it easier to get and keep an erection if you notice a reduced level of sensation during sex.
Our guide to ED treatments and medications goes into more detail about what you can do to treat erectile dysfunction.
You could read a more on our how to get sensation back.
Penile numbness can be a serious annoyance, especially when it begins to affect your ability to get an erection and have sex.
Most of the time, a numb penis is treatable. If you notice that your penis feels less sensitive than normal, talk to your healthcare provider to learn more about your options for restoring sensitivity and preventing numbness from affecting your sexual performance.