Female sexual dysfunction affects approximately 40 million women in America. There are a variety of reasons why women and transgender individuals with vaginas may be unable to experience sexual pleasure or orgasms. However, one particular reason this may occur is clitoral insensitivity. Here are a few reasons why the clitoris may become less sensitive and treatments that may fix the problem.
Causes of Clitoral Insensitivity
Possibly the most common reason why the clitoris may become less sensitive to stimulation—thus resulting in a poor sexual experience or failure to orgasm—is due to hormonal problems. It may be surprising to learn that the clitoris functions very similarly to the penis.
When stimulated, the clitoris becomes erect as the area fills with blood. However, a healthy mix of testosterone, estrogen, and prostaglandins is required to fuel this process and sensitize the area. Additionally, the nerve endings in the clitoris must produce adequate amounts of nitric oxide to move the tissues. A person with low amounts of the necessary hormones may experience reduced clitoral sensations and even pain if nitric oxide levels are low as well.
There are several things that may cause reduced or imbalanced hormone levels. Age is a common culprit, as hormone levels tend to dip as a person gets older. Birth control can also interfere with a person's natural body chemistry, leading to imbalances that result in reduced clitoral sensitivity. Medication and systemic diseases like diabetes can also have a negative impact.
Another reason why the clitoris may become less sensitive is because of physical trauma. This can be the result of something as simple as overuse. For instance, using a vibrator too much can damage the vaginal nerves, resulting in desensitization. Other sources of physical trauma include riding a bicycle, surgery near the vagina, spinal cord injuries, and direct impacts to the groin area.
The best treatment for clitoral insensitivity will depend on the source of the problem. If the issue stems from low or imbalanced hormones, then taking steps to increase or balance levels can restore sensitivity to the clitoris. This can be done through the use or replacement hormone medication. For instance, low testosterone can be boosted using patches or pills. For people who want to avoid taking medication or may be concerned about drug interactions, eating certain foods may replace or stimulate the production of missing hormones. Soy foods are a good source of phytoestrogen, which mimics the action of estrogen, for instance.
Being overweight can also lead to clitoral insensitivity for a couple of reasons. First, excess fat is associated with lower testosterone levels, a necessary sex hormone. Second, being overweight or obese increases a person's risk of developing type-2 diabetes. High blood sugar levels damage the nerves in the body, including the ones in the clitoris. Therefore, losing unnecessary weight and getting blood sugar levels under control may improve clitoral sensation.
Clitoral insensitivity due to physical trauma can be a little more challenging to fix. If the issue is because of chronic overstimulation of the clitoris (e.g. overuse of vibrators), taking a break from sexual activity for a while may be the best course of action. This is because scar tissue may have formed under or around the clitoris due to the damage caused by the activity. Taking a break gives the body the chance to make repairs and possibly result in dissolution of the scar tissue, leading to increased sensitivity.
Surgery to repair nerve damage may also be an option for dealing with physical trauma to the clitoris. Be aware, though, that any type of surgery carries risk. Therefore, you'll want to thoroughly research this treatment option to determine if the benefit exceeds the drawbacks.
For more information about this issue or treatment options, talk to a gynecologist at a clinic such as Central Iowa OB/Gyn Specialists, PLC.