A man normally feels his penis. But a variety of medical issues can cause penile numbness. This provokes concern and distress for many men.
The pudendal nerve,
influenced by sitting position
and general health,
may cause this.
Riding a bicycle is great exercise. Long-term exertion with on the bike saddle can cause a man to experience a numb penis. In the book High-Performance Cycling, we find that pressure on the saddle can result in a nerve problem.
The pudendal nerve provides feeling to the penis. If the nerve becomes compressed somehow, the penis will become numb. This is a form of compression neuropathy. This is a temporary effect.Penis Nerves
In cyclists the most common problems of this nature are... in men the pressure on the pudendal nerve from the saddle resulting in a numb penis.High-Performance Cycling
Further investigation. I decided to look into factors that contribute to the numb penis while riding a bike. In the New Scientist Volume 131, I found an article that provides more information.
Among men, the second most common complaint was genital [anesthesia], or a numb penis. This is the result of their more slumped posture, with their weight pressing down on the front of the saddle.New Scientist
The problem of genital anesthesia is reduced by having a less slumped posture. Also, weight loss could reduce the pressure on the saddle. If a man's body weighs less, less pressure will be put on the pudendal nerve.
One study explored whether male police officers who patrolled on bicycles could benefit from no-nose saddles. The no-nose saddles did reduce perineal pressure. And the health of the penises of these police officers also improved.
With few exceptions, bicycle police officers were able to effectively use no-nose saddles in their police work. Use of no-nose saddles reduced most perineal pressure. Penile health improved after 6 [months] using no-nose saddles as measured by biothesiometry and [International Index of Erectile Function Questionnaire].Cutting off the nose to save the penis
Alcock syndrome. Pudendal nerve compression causing penis numbness is known as the Alcock syndrome. In anatomy, the pudendal nerve passes through the Alcock's canal in the pelvis. This is where the name derives from.
Alcock's syndrome in bicycle riders has been characterized as a prolonged glans and penile insensitivity, genital numbness and an erectile dysfunction.Site of origin of Alcock's syndrome
Tingling in the penis. Another possible symptom of nerve compression in the pelvic area (known as Alcock's syndrome) is penis tingling. This may be a preliminary state of penile numbness.
And:Tingling may also occur when the man's penis is recovering from its anaesthetized state.
There is another possible cause for a loss of sensation in the penis. A victim of sexual abuse can become numb. In the book Handbook of Clinical Sexuality for Mental Health Professionals, I found information about how this occurs.
As he became more comfortable with me, he told me that he had been abused by a coach in a previous school. The abuse consisted of fondling his penis. He was frightened to tell any other teachers or his mother, managing it alone.Handbook of Clinical Sexuality
The man gradually gained back feeling in his penis through talk therapy and practice. Sexual abuse can reduce sensation. The medical book states that the mind can numb the penis and deprive a man of sexual satisfaction.
Tip:Sexual abuse is an important issue that has vast consequences for everyone involved. The mind and body are connected.
So:Some causes of numb penis may involve not the penis primarily but the mind and a man's mental health.
Every person has a pudendal nerve in the pelvic region. For a man this controls sensation to his penis. Any form of damage to the pudendal nerve can cause a loss of sensation to the penis.
Note:Compression of the pudendal nerve causes a loss of feeling to the penis in men who ride bikes.
Also:Fascinating illustrations of the internal anatomy of the pelvis and the pudendal nerve are found in the Thieme Atlas of Anatomy.Thieme Atlas of Anatomy
Another possible cause of penile numbness is related to the prostate. Men who have prostate cancer and have had a procedure called bracytherapy—radiation therapy to the prostate gland—may experience numbness.
Penile numbness is a rare complication of permanent prostate brachytherapy, and optimal clinical management remains unclear.Subacute penile numbness after brachytherapy
The man had penile numbness after his radiation treatment. The problem was resolved to the man's satisfaction. This is an issue for men with known prostate problems. The man described here was 68 years old and had prostate cancer.
Medical researchers have also investigated vacuum pumps used on the penis. One study from Iran tested whether vacuum pumps could elongate the male penis. The results were not encouraging.
An increase of length of 0.3 centimeters only (0.1 inches) was found. And the vacuum pump devices actually caused penile numbness for the test subjects. The numbness resolved on its own.
There was one case of [hematoma] of the penis and one of glans numbness, both resolved spontaneously without any intervention.A vacuum device for penile elongation
Various sexual appliances may also cause penile numbness. If a man chooses to use these items, which include rings, he should be aware they may cause physical damage to the penis relating to loss of circulation. This involves numbness.
Caution:Numbness, like pain, is a sign that something is wrong. Do not ignore it. Rather, try to avoid causing it again.
Ejaculation occurs when the penis releases ejaculate fluid. One medical treatment that has been investigated to reduce premature ejaculation in men is a numbing cream—such as one containing lidocaine—used on the penile shaft and glans.
In one study done at a University in Turkey, we find that numbing the penis with this cream is effective for the treatment of premature ejaculation. The men took longer to ejaculate.
Therefore, lidocaine-prilocaine cream 5% is effective in premature ejaculation and 20 min of application time before sexual contact is the optimum period.Optimum usage of prilocaine-lidocaine cream
Also, other ointments and gels may reduce sensation in the penis. If you choose to masturbate with an unusual lubricant—perhaps one not intended for masturbatory use—this may provoke penile numbness.
One common question people have about disabled individuals who cannot walk—who are confined to wheelchairs—involves the penis. Do men with paraplegia have feeling in their penises?
In investigating this question, I found the issue to be complex. Some men do not have feeling in their penises. This quote comes from the book Moving Violations by John Hockenberry.
Sex was one detail of life as a paraplegic that was rarely discussed in the hospital. I had no sensation "down there," so what I would do "down there" now, besides jam catheter tubes into my penis, I didn't know.Moving Violations by John Hockenberry
Penile numbness has been a concern for me. I think it troubles many men.
Sometimes when sitting too long,
as in an uncomfortable car seat,
I have had this problem. Fortunately there were no serious consequences.
Note:As with the issue with bicycling, sitting too long in an uncomfortable chair affects the pudendal nerve.
And:This is the likely cause of my penile numbness. It was alarming, but neither serious nor permanent.
Many causes of numbness in the genital region are not alarming. Most are not permanent. Some numbness may be intentional. Other causes involve athletic activity such as cycling. This is helped with special seats.
Red spots:Red dots are a related problem that may occur on the penis. I investigate this problem (often petechiae) in great detail.Red Spot, Penis