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Numb Penis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 12/25/2020

Updated 04/19/2024

Men require sensitivity to feel pleasure and to eventually reach orgasm and ejaculate. So if you’re searching phrases and questions like, “Why does my penis feel weird? What causes tingling in private area? Is lost sensitivity erectile dysfunction?” then it might signal you’re experiencing sexual problems.

It’s possible for you to experience a loss of sensation, reduced sensation or even numbness in your penis. When penile numbness is severe, you may even find it difficult to develop and maintain an erection. 

Below, we’ve answered questions about “numb penis” as well as what you can do to treat numbness and bring your penis’s sensitivity level back to normal.

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A numb penis can mean different things to different men. Some feel nothing, others tingling sensations, burning or the pins and needles discomfort that’s often associated with the feeling of a body part that “falls asleep.”

While symptoms of penile numbness can vary in type and severity, you may notice one or several of the following symptoms:

  • No feeling in penis

  • Penis is cold or tip of penis feels cold

  • Tingling or a “pins and needles” sensation

Severe penile numbness may affect your ability to get an erection and enjoy sex. You may experience issues like: 

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Feelings of numbness or tingling in the penis may be due to a number of common causes like injury, nerve damage or even hormone imbalances.

The first hunch for explaining these symptoms is often nerve damage, because it’s the nerves — specifically the pudendal nerve and those around it — that transmit sensation from your boner and other genitalia to your brain.

These nerves can become damaged, injured or interrupted in a number of ways. We’ve explained the potential causes of penile numbness below.  

Injury to the Penis

If your penis is injured or compressed for a long period of time, or there is damage to the nerves that innervate your penis, you may notice that it feels less sensitive than normal — the way your arm might after an hour of cuddling as the big spoon. In some cases, your penis may feel completely numb.

Penile injury and nerve injury can come from many sources. Your penis can be injured from trauma to the perineal region or nerves can be injured during certain types of surgery — including some medical procedures to treat prostate cancer.

Some sports and exercises can also cause your penis to feel numb in the same way that you might get a pinched nerve elsewhere on your body. For example, cyclists often experience penile numbness and erectile dysfunction, particularly those that ride long distances on a frequent basis.

A 2019 study of 2,774 male cyclists found that more than half the participants experienced some genital numbness, primarily in the penis. More years of riding, more frequent cycling, cycling longer distances, lower handlebars and not using padded shorts were all associated with more numbness, while body mass index and age were not.

The good news is that the researchers also found that penile numbness in participants wasn’t associated with 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 or the nerves that supply it may temporarily cause numbness. 

Low Testosterone

Most men associate their testosterone levels with hair volume, muscle mass and fertility, but testosterone is also associated with penile sensitivity. Specifically, low testosterone, which affects almost 40 percent of men 45 or older, may reduce the sensitivity level of your penis.

Low testosterone levels are 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 delays in reaching orgasm. Our article on signs of low testosterone has details if you want to learn more.

Diseases Causing Nerve Damage

Diseases and medical conditions that affect your nerves — like multiple sclerosis — or those that specifically damage the nerves in your groin and lower body may cause you to develop numbness or reduced sensitivity in your penis and testicles. 

A large variety of diseases and medical conditions can cause general nerve damage, including: 

  • Diabetes

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • Lupus

  • Metabolic disease

  • Thyroid conditions

  • Poor blood flow

  • Certain forms of cancer

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. 

If you have any of these diseases and are experiencing reduced sensitivity, it’s important to talk to a healthcare professional as soon as possible. Some nerve damage from diseases and medical conditions can be reversed. However, in some cases, disease-related nerve damage is difficult to treat or can become permanent. 

Medication Side Effects

Several different types of medications can cause genital numbness. For example, numbness is a known side effect of certain antidepressants; other sexual side effects, such as a reduced level of sexual excitement and difficulty reaching orgasm, are often associated with antidepressants, too.

Selegiline, a medication used to treat Parkinson’s disease, is also known to cause a reduction in penile sensitivity.

If you suspect your medications may be causing a drop in your sensitivity, talk to a healthcare professional, but don’t discontinue the medication without their approval — a numb penis can be a bummer, but the side effects of stopping certain medications cold turkey could be far worse.

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Most cases of penile numbness can be treated by addressing the underlying conditions at fault, by modifying your use of medications or making other changes to your habits and lifestyle.

A healthcare provider will consider your symptoms, medical history and more to narrow the potential causes and suggest changes to your medications or lifestyle, or recommend treatments to deal with the problem. 

Your treatment will vary depending on what’s causing your numbness, but it’s likely that it will follow one of these paths: 

  • Treat underlying medical conditions. If you have a disease or medical condition that may affect your penis’s sensitivity level, it needs to be treated. Luckily, 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. 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 to make sure they’re aware of your issues and ask to switch meds. Switching from one drug to another may decrease or get rid of sexual side effects — for example, many people prescribed antidepressants experience fewer sexual side effects when they start using medications such as bupropion. A healthcare provider can also adjust your dosage or make other changes to help with the side effects.

  • Avoid sports and activities that cause penile numbness. Your bike seat is not always your friend, so maybe stay off the bike, fellas. Sports like long-distance cycling are infamous for leading to penile numbness and other crotch injuries, like saddle sores. If you’re an unstoppable cyclist, try temporarily reducing your cycling distance to see if this improves your symptoms, or consider buying 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. ED medications like Viagra® (sildenafil) and Cialis® (tadalafil) do not treat penile numbness, but if your numbness is reducing your erectile function, they may make it easier to get and keep an erection even with reduced sensation. Our guide to ED treatments and medications goes into more detail about what you can do to treat erectile dysfunction.

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Your sex life already has its foes — as men get older, sex drive can diminish, blood vessels can constrict, mental health can falter and confidence can waver.

Penile numbness can be a frustrating annoyance, but it can also be a sign of serious illness or major health conditions.

To recap, here are the most important things to remember about a numb penis:

  • Don’t panic. A couple of occasions where your penis feels numb aren’t necessarily signs of sexual dysfunction, but a pattern might indicate something is wrong.

  • Figure out why. Numbness can be caused by a variety of factors, from injuries to the scrotum or penis to neuropathy. But your specific symptoms may help you figure out the cause. Men with erectile tissue damage can experience painful erections and reduced penis sensitivity for example, while people with neurological issues may experience neurological ED.

  • Plot a course of treatment. Making lifestyle changes (including biking less) and treating underlying conditions are some of the most effective ways of restoring sensation to your penis. If you have low testosterone, seek treatment options. You can also look into switching medications if yours may be reducing your sensation, like some antidepressants can.

  • Consider some ED support. No erectile dysfunction treatments help with numbness, but if your numbness is causing you to struggle to stay hard, medications like sildenafil, tadalafil or our chewable ED meds hard mints could help.

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.

Ready to get help? We offer a number of sexual health support options, from ED and premature ejaculation treatments to online therapy for intimacy issues.

6 Sources

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  2. Healy, D., LaPalme, J., & Levin, M. (2020). Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction: A Bioelectric Mechanism?. Bioelectricity, 2(1), 7–13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8370302/#:~:text=Close%20to%20100%25%20of%20takers,have%20genital%20arousal%20(irritability).
  3. Sandean DP, Lotfollahzadeh S. Peyronie Disease. [Updated 2022 Dec 3]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560628/.
  4. Kumar, P., Kumar, N., Thakur, D. S., & Patidar, A. (2010). Male hypogonadism: Symptoms and treatment. Journal of advanced pharmaceutical technology & research, 1(3), 297–301. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3255409/.
  5. Baradarn, N.A., Gaither, M., Thomas, W. et al. (2019). The association of bicycle-related genital numbness and Sexual Health Inventory for Men (SHIM) score: results from a large, multinational, cross-sectional study. BJU International, 124(2). Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/81j839tm
  6. Diaz KC, Cronovich H. Penis Fracture. [Updated 2022 Jul 29]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551618/.
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Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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