man holds tv in front of his private parts

Why Are My Privates Tingling?

Experiencing penile numbness? Don’t panic.

An occasional bout of numbness in your fingers after being in the cold is normal. Ditto tingling in your feet after sitting cross-legged for too long. But the last thing you might expect is for that pins-and-needles sensation to take over your penis, or for your knob to go completely numb. The question is, what causes tingling in a man’s private area? 

“Temporary penile numbness can happen after things like riding a bike or horse. It’s  common and usually not cause for concern,” says physical therapist Judith Meer, D.P.T. Frequent and prolonged penile numbness, however, is usually a result of underlying nerve damage, injury to the penis, hormone imbalance, or a chronic health condition like diabetes, she adds. 

If you’ve typed “what causes tingling in private areas of males” into Google, look no further. Meer and three other experts explain reasons why you have a numb penis.

About the Experts

Aleece Fosnight, M.S.P.A.S., PA-C is a board-certified physician assistant specializing in urology and sexual well-being. She is also the medical director at Aeroflow Urology, an online healthcare provider for people with pelvic floor dysfunction and incontinence. 

Judith Meer, C.S.C.S., D.P.T. is certified strength and conditioning specialist and physical therapist who works with The Pelvic PT, a pelvic floor physical therapy practice with branches in Burlington, VT and Hoboken, NJ. 

Justin Houman, M.D. is a board-certified urologist who specializes in sexual health, infertility, and erectile dysfunction. He also works as the Senior Medical Advisor at Cake, a sexual wellness platform.

Steven Lavender, B.Pthy, B.F.A., M.S.K.U.S. is an Australian-trained physiotherapist who specializes in men’s pelvic health, primarily among the queer community. He works with Bespoke Surgical, an NYC-based anal healthcare practice.

What Are Symptoms of a Numb Penis?

The most common symptom of penile numbness is that your member feels, for lack of better words, numb. 

Just as there can be variation in how numb or “asleep” a foot or leg feels, how that numbness manifests in the downtown region also varies, notes pelvic physiotherapist Steven Lavender. 

“For some people the numbness presents as an absence of feeling,” he says. Including a lack of sensation in response to stimulation—be it manual or oral, solo, or partnered—that would normally cause arousal, he explains. For others, Meer notes the sensation of numbness can be described as pins-and-needles, creepy crawling, or like you’ve been given anesthesia (similar to how novocaine creates a numbing effect). 

The Main Cause of Tingly Privates: Penis Nerve Damage 

Your penis contains nearly 4,000 nerve endings in its glans (that’s just the tip) and another thousand or so throughout the rest of its length and internal makeup (1). Just as nerves in your neck or back can get pinched, compressed, or otherwise damaged, so can the nerves in your penis, says Lavender (2). 

The pudendal nerve, which branches from your spine to your pelvic floor muscles, perineum, and penis is particularly prone to damage, Lavender explains. 

When this nerve gets injured (primarily from prolonged bouts of sitting), it can lead to numbness. Typically, “when the damage is in the spine there is more of a global disruption of sensation and function,” says Lavender. “If nerve damage exists along one of those nerve branches to specific areas the symptoms become localized.” In some instances, that local spot is your schlong. 

Along with the tingling, you might also notice changes to erectile function and urination, says Meer. “A sensation of tingling around the external anal sphincter with bowel movements can happen as well.”

The sacral nerve (3), which is located where the lower spine meets the posterior pelvis, can also become damaged in such a way that leaves your junk numb, according to board-certified physician assistant Aleece Fosnight, PA-C, C.S.C.S. Herniated discs, annular tears or fissure (when fibers making up the outermost part of a disc separate), and osteoarthritis in the spine (4) are the most common culprits behind sacral nerve damage, she says. 

The good news: “Nerve function can often be restored,” says Fosnight, usually, through a combination of pelvic floor therapy, lifestyle changes, and medical intervention. But it takes time. “Nerves can take 12 to 18 months to heal,” she says, adding that it depends on how the nerve was injured and what lifestyle habits can be modified to help alleviate tension. 

Other Causes of Penile Numbness

You sit all day

Between  driving to work, hunching over computer monitors, and unwinding on the couch, people spend an estimated 7+hours per day sitting (5). All of that sitting can lead to penile numbness—especially when you’re lounging on saddle-shaped seats, says Lavender. All this sitting puts prolonged pressure on the pudendal nerve and interferes with genital blood flow, which causes a tingling sensation.

“Men who sit for long periods of time like musicians on hard seats, motorcyclists, and cyclists are [especially] susceptible to penile numbness,” he says (6). 

Reducing the amount of time you spend doing activities that require sitting will reduce the tingling, says Lavender. “Altering seats and work set-up ergonomics can [also] help when cutting out those activities is not possible,” he says. 

You bent your boner

Given that it’s made out of blood vessels, nerves, and a series of connective and erectile tissues (7), your penis may not be able to break like a bone—but it can fracture, says Meer. 

When a person gets an erection, two structures in the shaft (called the corpora cavernosa) fill with blood, explains Fosnight. If the lining (the tunica albuginea) of either of these structures gets bent or otherwise traumatized when erect, it can result in penile fracture, she explains. 

The most common cause of these bends? Partnered sex. “The primary culprits are doggy style, missionary positions and partner-on-top,” says Meer. However, there is a cultural practice called  “Taqaandan” amongst middle eastern countries and Central Asian that involves intentionally bending an erect penis to achieve a “pop” and reduction in swelling, she says. This too can result in penile fractures (8). 

If you’ve suffered penile fracture or sexual mishap, the tingling might be accompanied by coldness, or your twig and berries take on a blue or purple tinge, says Lavender. Other symptoms of penile fracture include immediate and acute penile pain, as well as abnormal penile shaft swelling and bruising. 

“Penile fractures are medical emergencies that must be addressed quickly,” says Meer. If not addressed quickly via surgery, you could be at a higher risk of having issues urinating or developing erectile dysfunction (9).

You used a sex toy incorrectly

Sex toys’ main function is to add pleasure into your play time. Unfortunately, if you mis-use the product, it can lead to penile numbness or other damage that’s either temporary or permanent, Fosnight says. 

For example, using a penis pump for too long or too intensely, can bruise your member or burst a blood vessel in its shaft, leading to numbness, she says. 

Sometimes tingling in your privates during playtime is  simply an indication that the toy was too narrow or short for your penis. “Wearing a penile ring too long, or using one that is too tight, can also cause damage,” says Fosnight. 

If you suspect that you have injured your penis while using these toys, she recommends going to the emergency room immediately to prevent internal tissue tears as well as long-term damage to the urethra and blood vessels. 

Your T-levels have dropped

Testosterone plays a role in many different bodily functions. However, it’s best known for supporting overall reproductive and sexual function. 

When testosterone levels dip, it can reduce sexual sensation, says Lavender. A 2012 study found that the brain registers touch (including sexual touch) to a lesser degree when T levels are lowI (10). This  dulled response to touch can create the illusion that your penis is literally numb, Lavender explains. 

“If low testosterone levels are responsible for numbness, optimizing testosterone levels—such as through hormone replacement therapy—is usually the fix,” he says.


You have an underlying disease or condition

“A number of diseases can cause penile numbness, including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, peripheral artery disease or cardiovascular disease,” says Lavender. All of these conditions can disrupt the nerve signaling and blood vessel function that are essential for penile and erectile activity, he explains. 

“Spinal cord or brain injuries can cause genital numbness, too,” he adds. These injuries can impact the strength of the boner-brain connection, which is needed for sensation (11). 

Peyronie’s disease, which is marked by scar tissue build-up on (and in) the penis, can also lead to numbness and tingling in your privates, notes Lavender (12). In some cases, the scar tissue causes the penis to bend; in others, numbness is caused by the erectile dysfunction that typically accompanies the disease.  

The exact solution for getting sensation back will depend on which underlying condition is causing the penile tingling or numbness, so be sure to speak with your doctor. 

You’re on medication that dulls sensation 

Several medications list penile numbness as a side effect, notes Lavender. The most common are SSRIs, which treat depression and anxiety. “There is actually research that shows that SSRIs can change genital sensation in less than one hour [of taking the medication],” says Meer (13). 

Medications associated with causing ED—like antihistamines, opioids, diuretics, and high blood pressure meds—may also lead to numbness and tingling (14). 

If you suspect a medication might be to blame, talk to your doctor (don’t just stop on your own). 

You’ve been masturbating (a lot) 

“Excessive masturbation can lead to an overstimulation of the nerves, which results in temporary numbness of the penis,” says urologist Justin Houman, M.D. 

Generally, this type of numbness is a short-lived response to excess pressure placed on penile nerves, he explains. Usually, the feeling in your penis will return after a few hours. 

If this happens regularly when you masturbate, a looser grip can help you sidestep numbness and tingling while increasing penis sensitivity, Lavender suggests.

Hone’s at-home testosterone assessment is the simplest way to uncover whether your levels are low. If you qualify for treatment, TRT can be sent right to your door.  

How to Get Sensation Back 

Tingling and numbness can be treated through lifestyle, medical, and surgical inventions, depending on the cause.

Make lifestyle changes 

If  you spend most of your day sitting on a hard surface, switch up your seat set-up, says Lavender. 

Reducing how much time you spend biking or sitting down can also help.

“Wearing very tight clothing or underwear can also exacerbate tingling,” says Houman. Looser briefs and bottoms may be a helpful quick fix. 

Talk to your doctor

If the tingling started after you were diagnosed with a condition like diabetes, controlling the condition should alleviate the issue, says Fosnight. If a medication is responsible for the numbness, Lavender suggests talking to your provider about alternative options. 

Broadly speaking, urologists are the go-to doctors for anything penis related. “They can perform a thorough evaluation, diagnose the underlying cause, and recommend an appropriate treatment plan,” Houman says. “Early intervention can prevent potential complications from prolonged tingling and improve outcomes.”

Go to pelvic floor physical therapy

Pelvic floor specialists have a deep understanding of the complexities of the pelvis including the overlap between musculoskeletal, neurologic and cardiovascular networks,” says Fosnight. If the tingling sensation is caused by a pinched nerve, these physical therapists can suggest a series of at-home exercises that can help improve circulation and nerve function, she says. 

Consider surgery

Surgery is generally considered a last resort for penile numbness, according to Fosnight. However, it may be required in instances where nerve damage is causing the issues.. 

The Bottom Line

Seat ergonomics,  aggressive solo sex, medications, and hormone imbalances can cause tingling in the private areas of males. Thankfully, there are just as many—if not more—solutions for it. If your penis or surrounding erogenous and genital tissues feel numb or tingly, talk to your doctor about how to get sensation back.