While vaginal numbness is not necessarily normal, it is not uncommon either, especially after sex. For many women, a lack of understanding about what causes vaginal numbness, and their inability to orgasm, results in less sexual interest and intimacy with their partner. The good news is that vaginal numbness is temporary for most women and with some helpful tips, your sexual confidence can get back on track in no time.
In this article, we’ll discuss 7 potential causes of vaginal numbness as well as tips to improve genital sensations and get your sex life back on track.
Vaginal numbness is described as a lack of feeling or sensation in the genitals. Considered different from the tingly, pins-and-needles type of numbness that some women feel when sexually aroused, genital numbness is an absence of sensation. Closely linked to a lack of strength in pelvic floor muscles, vaginal numbness is normally a temporary condition that can be addressed with some helpful tips.
That said, there are some instances where the cause of vaginal numbness requires medical treatment. We’ll discuss this in more below.
Quite a few factors are known to impact vaginal numbness including exercise, age, pregnancy, childbirth, stress levels, hormones, trauma, and underlying medical conditions. The following are the most common causes:
Vaginal numbness after sex is typically temporary, nothing to worry about, and commonly caused by overstimulation of the vaginal nerves. Rigorous sex, sex toys, or vibrators set to a high vibration level can all cause overstimulation of the vaginal nerves and result in temporary numbness in the genitals. But rest assured that neither rigorous sex nor sex toys can cause permanent numbness in the genital area.
However, if you are feeling no sensations in the vagina at all during sex, it is best to speak with your healthcare practitioner to rule out an underlying condition.
Previous to menopause, when estrogen levels are normal, the vaginal walls are thick and pliable enough to move effortlessly during sex, pregnancy, and childbirth. However, the hormonal changes that occur during perimenopause, specifically the drop in estrogen and collagen levels, can result in vaginal dryness due to a lack of natural lubrication, as well as thinner and less flexible vaginal walls, which can sometimes lead to a lack of sensation or vaginal numbness.
Pregnancy and childbirth affect the female body in many ways, whether women give birth by cesarean or vaginally. The pelvic floor muscles and vaginal walls, for instance, are softened by pregnancy hormones and stretched to support the developing baby, as well as aid in the birth process. Sometimes vaginal births can be intense to the point that nerves are cut or injured. And it can all manifest afterward as a lack of feeling or numbness in the genitals. Thankfully, vaginal numbness after pregnancy or childbirth usually subsides within a few months, and with the help of our treatment tips below, your pelvic muscles and vaginal walls can come back stronger than ever.
Certain exercises can cause vaginal numbness due to nerve compression or excess pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. Cycling long distances and horseback riding can cause genital numbness in females (and males for that matter) due to the compression of the pudendal nerve, which is located between the genitals and anus. Genital numbness from exercise is typically temporary, rarely cause for concern, and usually improves with pelvic physical therapy treatment to release the muscles, nerves, and vessels that have been compressed. If you are an avid cyclist or equestrian, ensuring you have a well fit bike and saddle can help.
Stress can also cause vaginal numbness, particularly when it is persistent due to muscle clenching and inflammation. Sexual function and pleasure are not only related to the physical body but also to the subconscious mind. In fact, studies have proven that high levels of cortisol, which is the hormone produced when the body feels stressed, can directly affect genital arousal, or more importantly, lack thereof.
Women who have experienced pelvic trauma from a physical injury or sexual abuse can often encounter psychological blocks in the form of vaginal numbness. It often stems from a sense of self-protection when they feel nervous about having sex or re-living the pain. While our treatment tips below can help to physically heal vaginal numbness, speaking with a physical therapist about pelvic trauma or a sexual therapist about previous sexual abuse will help the psychological healing.
When vaginal numbness persists and is accompanied by additional symptoms, an underlying condition may be the cause.
If you experience any additional symptoms on top of vaginal numbness, make an appointment with your healthcare practitioner to rule out any underlying conditions that might require treatment.
Vaginal numbness and sexual pleasure are closely related to the health of your pelvic floor and one of the first steps toward improvement is to strengthen and retrain the pelvic floor muscles. Connecting, like a hammock, from the pubic bone at the front of the pelvis to the lower spine at the back of the pelvis, the pelvic floor muscles not only support the vagina but also the bladder, bowel, rectum, womb, and uterus.
Weakened over time, by life experiences such as pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, weight gain, and menopause, the pelvic floor muscles can be strengthened with regular Kegel exercises. A Kegel is an intentional squeeze, lift and hold of the pelvic floor muscles, typically performed in repetitive intervals.
Practicing regular Kegel Exercises not only retrains the pelvic floor muscles and eases vaginal numbness it also increases sexual pleasure and intensifies orgasms.
For even better results in the pelvic floor muscles, women’s health experts recommend using Kegel weights in a set of ascending weights and sizes. Designed to fit as snugly as a tampon while providing the perfect amount of resistance training for the pelvic muscles and vaginal walls, Kegel weights are typically held in place for just 15 minutes per day.
Vitex agnus-castus is the Latin name for Chasteberry, a dried fruit from the chaste tree first used by ancient civilizations to treat women’s reproductive issues and menopause symptoms over 2500 years ago. More recent studies have shown that it significantly helps in maintaining healthy hormone levels and greatly reduces menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, mood swings, breast tenderness, lack of sleep, and pelvic discomfort.
Chasteberry supplements are now widely available and highly recommended to treat PMS and menopause symptoms.
Relaxation techniques can help to calm the muscles and are often beneficial right before intercourse to improve sexual pleasure. If you feel your vaginal numbness or lack of genital arousal might be connected to your stress levels, consider learning some relaxation techniques like meditation, breathwork, or yoga to keep you feeling balanced. A pelvic wand can be used to relieve pelvic floor muscle restrictions in those that experience clenching or overactivity of the pelvic floor muscles associated with stress or trauma.
Temporary vaginal numbness that restricts your ability to climax or results in a lack of genital sensations after sex, is common, but a lingering or persistent numbness in the genital area is not. If you notice additional symptoms, as mentioned above, it is best to speak with your healthcare practitioner to rule out any underlying conditions that may require treatment.
On the other hand, if you are experiencing fleeting but regular vaginal numbness after sex it might be due to physical changes after childbirth, pregnancy, menopause, physical trauma, or stress. In these cases, strengthening your pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises and Kegel weights will not only treat the vaginal numbness it will improve your sexual pleasure and ability to orgasm too. A pelvic wand can be used to release tight pelvic floor muscles in those with nerve compression.
North American Menopause Society – Changes in the Vagina & Vulva - https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/changes-at-midlife/changes-in-the-vagina-and-vulva
National Library of Medicine - Chronic stress and sexual function in women - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4199300/
Healthline – Pelvic Floor After Childbirth - https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/your-pelvic-floor-explained
Self – What Your Bike Seat Is Doing To Your Vulva & Vagina - https://www.self.com/story/what-your-bike-seat-is-doing-to-your-vagina
Cleveland Clinic – Kegel Exercises - https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/14611-kegel-exercises
Intimate Rose – 7 Benefits of Kegels For Women - https://www.intimaterose.com/blogs/kegel-exercise/7-benefits-of-kegels-for-women
National Library of Medicine- Comparison of Vitex agnus-castus Extracts with Placebo in Reducing Menopausal Symptoms: A Randomized Double-Blind Study - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6887765/