Numbness in the vulva is common and can feel like a tingling, pins-and-needles feeling or even a complete loss of sensation. It is usually temporary and can often be reversed, especially with some simple lifestyle changes.
For example, if you are experiencing numbness after a cycling workout or overstimulation with your vibrator, it may help to skip the intense workouts and instead opt for more rest.
1. Overuse of vibrators
If you’re using your vibrator frequently, and at high levels of vibration, it could make your genitals feel numb. The good news is that numbness is typically temporary and it can be resolved by taking a break from the device.
If numbness persists, you may benefit from a visit to your gynecologist for a physical evaluation. They will discover whether or not there are any physiological causes and help you work out a plan of action for healing the problem.
It is also possible that you have become desensitized to the pleasure of your clitoris because of historic sexual trauma. This can cause you to associate sexual penetration with pain rather than the pleasure it promises. If this is the case, then it will take time for you to re-learn your sense of pleasure in this area.
Another common cause of numbness is over-stimulation of the vaginal nerves. Rigorous sex, too much masturbation, and vibrators set to high levels of vibration can all lead to over-stimulation. Likewise, using a Yoni Egg can also trigger numbness in some people. However, these sensations can be reversed by slowly and patiently exploring your vulva with your fingers or a sex toy and concentrating on any areas that seem painful or numb. This is called mapping the vulva and it will help you re-learn your sense of arousal in this area.
While prickly, tingly sensations in the vagina are usually nerve-related and may occur during arousal or after vigorous sexual activity, a total lack of feeling (even after orgasm) could indicate a more serious problem. If the numbness is prolonged, it could indicate a disruption in blood flow to the area or nerve damage.
Some women experience numbness in the vulva after giving birth or through sexual trauma. A complicated vaginal delivery or trauma can put pressure on, stretch, or even injure the nerves in your pelvic floor, which can affect how sex feels. Numbness in the vulva can also be a sign of a herniated disc, or cauda equina syndrome.
Stress, especially high levels of persistent cortisol, can have a direct effect on genital sensitivity. It can cause a strain on the pelvic floor muscles and restrict blood flow, as well as increase muscle clenching which can interfere with natural function.
It’s not a good idea to skip your heart-healthy cycling workout, but if you’re feeling numb in your lady bits after a ride, try turning it down a notch. Likewise, a sex toy that’s set too high can over-stimulate the nerves in your vulva and make it hard to orgasm. Numbness from this type of over-stimulation generally resolves as soon as you stop using the toy.
The pudendal nerve runs from the back of the pelvis to near the base of your penis or clitoris (and the perineum). It sends signals to your brain about the anus, vulva and other lower body parts, including the sphincter muscles that open and close when you use the bathroom. If this nerve becomes damaged or irritated, it can cause pain and numbness in your pelvic area. It can also make it hard to sit down, have sex and use the restroom. This is called pudendal neuralgia. It usually passes with time and will go away once the nerve heals.
If you experience numbness in your vulva that doesn’t disappear, talk to your doctor. They can check for a physical injury or an infection, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI). This type of infection is caused by E. coli bacteria, which can cause symptoms such as vaginal discharge, pain and numbness.
Your doctor can also check for a medical condition that might be causing the numbness, such as a herniated disc or in some cases, a tumor compressing the nerves in your pelvic region. They might prescribe medication to block pain signals or recommend a different type of treatment, such as internal vaginal massage or pelvic floor exercises. They might also suggest lifestyle changes or dietary adjustments that could make a difference.
Numbness in the pelvic area could be a sign of nerve damage, a disruption to blood flow to the region or the early signs of a cauda equina syndrome (damage to the nerves that branch from the lower part of the spinal cord). This condition can affect your ability to use the bathroom, walk, or have sex. If your numbness is very sudden or severe, seek medical attention immediately.
Having a difficult vaginal delivery or sexual trauma can also cause you to lose sensation in this area, especially when the nerves that bring blood to the vulva are cut. For some women, this will resolve in time as the nerves regenerate and blood flow is restored.
Sometimes, this numbness is fleeting and can disappear without any specific treatment. However, if it’s a regular problem then it might be due to the hormonal changes of pregnancy or menopause, persistent stress or a tight pelvic floor muscle that causes compression to nerves in this region. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises and using a pelvic wand can relieve this compression and restore sensation in the vulva.
Other options include going to therapy if you think that the numbness is related to past sexual trauma, and practicing self-care such as yoga, tai chi or massage of the vulva, especially with a professional therapist. You can also do a practice called de-armouring which is a physical, emotional and mental process of dissolving the rigidity that limits the flow of life force energy in this region.