Having little or no feeling in the vagina during penetration and intercourse is a very common problem for many women. It can be caused by a number of reasons.
Some of the most common causes include a medical condition, a medication, or low estrogen levels. Other reasons can be emotional or psychological.
Women’s sexual desire and arousal fluctuate throughout the lifespan, but sudden or unexplained changes may signal a medical condition. The medical term for this is female sexual arousal and interest disorder (FSIAD).
A variety of causes can affect a woman’s ability to feel arousal or orgasm, from physical to emotional to psychological. FSIAD can happen from things like long rides on a bike that compress or stretch the nerves in the pelvic area, or over-stimulation with vibrators. It can also be a side effect from certain medications, including those used for high blood pressure and depression, which reduce libido and interfere with arousal.
Menopause, giving birth or breastfeeding can also cause numbness in the vagina because of the rapid drop in estrogen levels. This hormone is responsible for keeping the vaginal tissues supple and lubricated, but without it, the tissue can become dry, thin and insensitive, as well as causing pain during intercourse.
Other common causes of numbness in the pelvic area include stress and strained or weak pelvic floor muscles. Stress can decrease a person’s sensitivity and lead to pain during sexual activity, because the body releases a hormone called cortisol when it feels under threat. This essentially mimics the effects of low male or female hormones and can be very difficult to overcome. In addition, obesity and chronic health conditions such as diabetes and arthritis can prevent arousal because they limit blood flow to the pelvic region.
The sensations of arousal and intercourse are the result of nerve-based responses to physical stimuli. So if you don’t feel the tingling or numbness that are typically associated with these sexual activities, there may be underlying problems that require clinical attention.
The lack of sexual pleasure and/or orgasm might be caused by a medical issue, such as a herniated disk, a tumor, or damage to the nerves in your pelvic area. It might also be a sign of an STI or other sexually transmitted disease, such as chlamydia. The numbness might also be the result of a psychological issue, like depression or anxiety or a history of sexual abuse.
Women who have experienced sexual trauma can encounter a psychological block in the form of vaginal numbness during sexual activity. This might be a physical reaction to the injury, or a fear of re-living the trauma, such as the experience of sexual assault.
Fortunately, this condition can be treated. For instance, if the numbness is related to overstimulation from using a vibrator, reducing or stopping its use should help restore feeling. If the numbness is psychologically-based, a talk with a physical therapist specializing in pelvic pain and a psychotherapist might be helpful. In some cases, the doctor might prescribe medication to dilate blood vessels, such as Viagra, which can increase sexual stimulation.
If you have a temporary loss of sensation in your genital area, it is normal. However, if the problem is ongoing and interferes with your sexual experience, you should see a doctor. Your doctor will ask about your medical history and may perform laboratory tests to rule out an underlying health problem.
In some cases, a doctor will prescribe medication. Many common medications can cause sexual dysfunction, including antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors such as phenelzine (Nardil), and some blood pressure medications and seizure medicines. Taking a different medicine or changing the dosage can often resolve sexual problems associated with these drugs.
Some conditions can affect your ability to feel arousal or have orgasm, such as diabetes, thyroid disease and multiple sclerosis. These conditions can damage nerves and blood vessels, or interfere with the flow of fluids to the pelvic area, causing numbness in the genital area.
A sex therapist or counselor may be able to help you overcome a lack of desire and/or sexual arousal. The therapist can teach you ways to stimulate arousal and increase intimacy with your partner. You can also try using a vaginal lubricant and using a vibrator for clitoral stimulation. A partner who is sensitive, takes his time and is interested in your feelings can also improve arousal.
Unless there is an underlying medical condition, a woman should not be alarmed if she feels nothing during sex. However, if she does feel nothing at all, she should see a doctor to rule out any problems that need treatment. Practicing good sexual hygiene, including wearing a condom and lubricating regularly, can help prevent problems with sensation. Regular exercise, a healthy diet and adequate sleep can also improve feelings during intimate activity.
Sometimes, feeling goes away due to overstimulation of the nerves in the genital area. Rigorous sex, a clitoral stimulator set to a high vibration level and masturbation can all overstimulate the nerves in the vulva and cause temporary numbness. This numbness does not usually last very long and may go away on its own.
Another possible reason for no sensation during sex is trauma or injury to the vaginal nerves, which can occur if a woman undergoes abdominal surgery. Giving birth can also stretch, cut or damage the nerves in the vulva. If this happens, it can take time for the numbness to resolve.
The best way to determine whether numbness is a symptom of an underlying medical problem is to visit an obstetrician or gynecologist. The doctor can discover or rule out any physical causes of the problem and work to fix them. In the meantime, women can practice self-compassion and patience with themselves while they try to reclaim their sensual pleasures.