The infamous sex health column Playboy Advisor once received the question:
“I often masturbate with sandpaper. Do I have a problem?”
The first line of their response: “Yes. But not for long.”
The rest of the column touched on the surface of what we’ll talk about in depth today: Loss of Penile Sensitivity.
In that case, the man used sandpaper because his penis was so insensitive his hand just couldn’t do the job anymore.
What is penile insensitivity? What causes it? How does it impact erectile function?
Most importantly: what can you do to avoid and reverse it?
Excessive Masturbation & Penile Sensitivity
Remember being 17 and feeling like you could rub yourself to completion in a stiff breeze? Touching your penis and having it touched regularly will desensitize the skin and nerves there.
Unless you work in porn, you won’t get enough contact for serious desensitization just through having regular sex. But masturbation can cause loss of penile sensitivity in two situations:
- If you’re masturbating compulsively — multiple times a day.
- If you masutrbate using the “death grip” — either a very firm grip, or the same grip every time
In both cases (or worse — if you’re guilty of both), you may find it difficult to get your member to respond to other forms of stimuli.
Solutions: this one’s easy. Don’t masturbate as often. And when you do masturbate, change up your technique. Avoid conditioning your body to get aroused with only one kind of touch.
Low Testosterone & Penile Sensitivity
If you’re reading this blog, you might already be worried about low testosterone for the other reasons it impacts your general and sexual health.
And — because testosterone is one of the main drivers of a man’s sexuality — it can rear its ugly head for you in this department as well.
Testosterone is responsible for libido, which includes your sensitivity to and arousal at having your penis touched.
Less testosterone = less response.
Solution: get your testosterone levels checked, then take steps to increase your numbers if they’re low.
Just make sure you address why your T-levels are so low — otherwise you’ll be trying to fix a symptom by addressing a different symptom, which will get you nowhere.
Diabetes & Penile Sensitivity
Diabetes can wreak havoc on a lot things in your system, including circulation and nerve sensitivity…
Which explains why diabetics can sometimes lose their feet due to gangrene or sensory neuropathy, and their vision can be lost due to damage to the retinal blood vessels.
Circulation and nerve sensitivity are two of the most important physical functions with erection and orgasm and they can wreck your penile sensitivity if they aren’t kept in check (source).
The bad news is you’re fighting a tough battle against processes over which you lose some control. The good news is you still do have some control over the situation.
Solutions: diabetes is often considered a life sentence, but going big on your diet, exercise, insulin management and lifestyle choices can keep most of the symptoms in check. That includes loss of circulation and nerve sensitivity responsible for a less sensitive penis.
Aging & Loss of Penile Sensitivity
Aging can reduce penile sensitivity in two different ways:
- Use and desensitization. The more you touch (or somebody else touches) your penis, the more used to stimulation it gets.
- Reduced blood flow. As we age, circulation decreases for a number of reasons. Less blood flow means less sensitivity, especially in the extremities like the penis.
The cumulative effects of this mean that, by your 80th birthday, you have just over a 30% chance of lacking the sensitivity needed to have an orgasm (source).
Although you can’t do anything about the passage of years, you can take steps to reduce the impact of aging.
Specifically, anything that improves circulation and blood flow can put life back into your penis just like those infamous blue pills, without the expense or the negative side effects.
Solutions: in the short term, exercise lightly before having sex to get the blood flowing.
Eat after sex (not before) so blood isn’t diverted into digestion. In the long term, consume nitrate rich foods and maximize fat soluble vitamin intake to keep your pipes clear.
Cycling & Loss of Penile Sensitivity
Men who spend a lot of time on a bike seat can experience significant penile numbness.
This happens because the seat compresses nerves and blood vessels in the perineum, the area between the anus and testicles.
In a study titled Impotence and Genital Numbness in Cyclists, the scientists found that 70% of long-distance cyclists had reduced penile blood flow, 61% had penile numbness and 19% had erectile dysfunction (source).
Solutions: The authors of the study above suggested cutting back on mileage, which can help minimize the damage.
You also take more frequent breaks while cycling or mix it up and do other forms of exercise occasionally instead of always opting for the bike.
How to Increase Penile Sensitivity
First things first: address any of the underlying causes of penile sensitivity we discussed above.
Once you’ve begun making progress on those items, go ahead and put two or three of the following techniques into heavy rotation.
- Lube Up. Start applying some lotion or personal lubricant before touching yourself or beginning foreplay. This reduces friction and trains your unit to respond to lighter stimuli.
- Get cooler. Run an ice cube along the shaft of your penis during foreplay which will open up sensitivity on new neural pathways.
- Take a break. Refrain from masturbation, foreplay, and sex for a while. Damaged tissue will heal, and you’ll become more responsive when your penis gets touched again.
- Use a soft touch. Touch your penis (or be touched) using light contact, or running silk or a feather along the shaft, training your penis to respond to less aggressive handling.
Note that most of these aren’t quick fixes. It will take a little time (and frustration) for your penis to adjust. But don’t panic. You’re healing from damage done over years and decades. Keep at it, and you will see results.
How to Increase Penile Sensitivity – Conclusion:
Your penis loses sensitivity for a variety of reasons over the years…
And if things continue to progress it can start causing problems for you in the bedroom. If this is happening, the solutions are simple:
- Step One: Eliminate any medical concerns or lifestyle habits which might be causing reduced sensitivity.
- Step Two: Take masturbation / sexual activity breaks to give your penis time to recover
- Step Three: Do exercises to train greater sensitivity into your member.
This article has been updated.