Have I permanently desensitized my penis?
May 3, 2014 8:31 PM   Subscribe

NSFW, obviously. Short version: masturbating dry seems to have done some long-term nerve damage; is this reversible?

Apologies for the TMI nature of what follows, but hey, you clicked.

I'm a guy in my thirties. Until a few years ago, my body produced enough pre-ejaculate that I could masturbate without the need for lube. Then it gradually started to dry up (which I assume is normal), but being clueless, for a few months in my mid-twenties I kept on masturbating more or less dry, without any lube self-produced or otherwise. This caused chafing on the skin of my penis, so I stopped, and started using store-bought lube. The chafing subsided, but I seem to have caused some permanent damage. I've never regained the full sensitivity I used to have. Being touched feels less pleasurable, orgasms (from masturbation or sex) aren't what they used to be, I don't get as hard as I used to (though this may be partly due to the passing years), and some areas of my penis still feel very slightly sore to the touch, even several years later. When I realized what was happening I cut down on masturbation (to once or twice a week at most) and always used minimal pressure/friction and plenty of lube; I also, with heroic self-control, twice held out for over a month without masturbating at all, hoping that the nerves would regenerate. You'd think if they were going to, they would have done so by now, which makes me think there might be nothing that can be done. But I'd really like to regain some of my old sensitivity. Is there anything I can do?

There are some products out there which are supposed to "promote penis health and increase sensitivity", e.g. Man1 Man Oil; honestly, these look like quack nostrums to me, but maybe they're worth a shot. I've been applying vitamin E oil for the last couple of weeks, with no perceptible effects so far. This doesn't feel like something to go to a doctor about, either. I realize I'm probably screwed, but maybe the hive mind will have some bright ideas?

(Throwaway email: askmefi052014@gmail.com)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Dan Savage's writing on the death grip might be what you're looking for.
posted by colin_l at 8:34 PM on May 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

You didn't do permanent damage to your nerves by masturbating, with or without lube. That said, there are things that can decrease your response, like diabetic neuropathy, depression, or certain medications. I really do think it's the sort of thing you should talk to your doctor about. I can promise you that vitamin oils and other over the counter products are not going to help.
posted by ubiquity at 8:42 PM on May 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

Ubiquity is correct. You almost certainly did not do nerve damage. Your reduced sensation could be caused by many things - simply aging being the most obvious cause (though 30s is pretty young for this, but not unheard of).

You should have a chat about it with your doctor, absolutely. The soreness is the most troubling symptom, and definitely worth a doctor visit. If nothing else, it will put your mind at ease.

OTC 'enhancement' products are snake oil and vitamin E certainly won't do anything. Don't waste your time or money.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:35 PM on May 3, 2014

There's plenty of medical reasons this might have happened waaaaaaaaay before you should jump to nerve damage. Go to your doctor, that should be your first response any time your body stops functioning normally.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:51 PM on May 3, 2014

FWIW I didn't immediately realize what "dry" means in your question - I wouldn't even think of it as an issue.

I think lube is a cultural/preference thing, I doubt you can hurt yourself this way.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:43 AM on May 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

Get yourself a stroker. If you're only using your hand and not varying your grip, it's possible that your brain just doesn't see those sensations as "new and exciting" any more. A stroker, or even a different grip, might help change things up a little. Maybe even try something like a heat pack or a cold flannel or something, to give yourself a different sensation. You can even get warming/cooling lubes.

I also experienced a loss of sensation, but it's amazing what difference a stroker can make. The death grip doesn't necessarily have to be tight, it just has to be monotonous. Strokers are a cheap way to change things around a little. I have no experience with pills or potions in this regard, but so far as I'm aware, such things aren't that closely regulated.

You probably should go and see your doctor, though. If this is an actual physical problem, well, do you really want naff maturbatory funtimes for the rest of your life? Doctors have seen more weird and wonderful things than your penis, I assure you.
posted by Solomon at 3:02 AM on May 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

If masturbating without lube ruined penises the human race would have gone extinct millennia ago
posted by Benjy at 5:03 AM on May 4, 2014 [9 favorites]

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