Clitoral atrophy is when the clitoris stops responding to stimulation and begins to shrink. This can occur due to hormonal changes, disuse, and a lack of blood flow. Regular stimulation and other strategies can help prevent atrophy.

The clitoris is a sexual organ located at the top of the vulva. It has an external visible part, called the glans, and an internal part, called the shaft.

The clitoris is very sensitive to sexual arousal and stimulation. During arousal, the glans may swell, becoming engorged.

Sometimes, the clitoris stops responding to stimulation and starts to shrink. Doctors refer to this as clitoral atrophy. The clitoris can even disappear.

Keep reading for more information about clitoral atrophy, including its causes, symptoms, and treatments.

a woman lying in bed and looking bored as she is not getting any sexual arousal because of  clitoral atrophy Share on Pinterest
A person with clitoral atrophy may experience a reduced response to sexual arousal or stimulation.

When a person with clitoral atrophy starts or tries to become aroused, their clitoris will have a reduced response. In some cases, there may be no response at all.

Clitoral atrophy can lead to a reduction or loss of sexual drive. This can cause frustration in people who are sexually active.

Related changes in the thickness of the clitoris can also lead to pain during intercourse.

During an exam, a healthcare professional may notice a reduction in the size of the clitoris. It may also appear pale from a lack of blood flow.

Clitoral atrophy can occur for several reasons, including:

  • Lack of blood flow: The clitoris requires a certain amount of regular blood flow to function properly.
  • Menopause: A reduction in the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone during menopause can cause several changes to the clitoris and vagina.
  • Hysterectomy: Removing the uterus, and sometimes other structures, can decrease levels of sex hormones in the body and reduce blood flow to the clitoris.

There is no formal process for diagnosing clitoral atrophy. A doctor may ask about symptoms and examine the clitoris, vulva, and vagina.

A clitoris that is pale and reduced in size can indicate clitoral atrophy.

The doctor may also order a blood test to check hormone levels. The test may point to an underlying health condition that causes symptoms similar to those of clitoral atrophy. A vaginal pH test may also help.

The right treatment for clitoral atrophy can depend on the underlying cause. Some options include:

  • Stimulating the clitoris regularly: Regular masturbation or intercourse helps promote and maintain blood flow to the clitoris.
  • Using sexual stimulants: Applying lotions and lubricants before sexual activity can help enhance clitoral sensation.
  • Doing cardiovascular exercise: This helps stimulate blood flow throughout the body, including the clitoris.
  • Estrogen therapy: Supplemental estrogen can be a topical or internal treatment, though people with certain risk factors should avoid it.

Some people believe that sparingly applying a topical testosterone treatment to the vulva could help restore sensitivity to the clitoris. However, there is no scientific research to support this use.

Anyone who wants to be sexually active but does not experience pleasure from stimulation can contact a doctor for advice. This experience could be a sign of clitoral atrophy or another health issue.

It may also be best to consult a doctor if a person:

  • experiences painful intercourse
  • notices any symptoms of menopause
  • suspects that any new symptoms have a hormonal cause

Examinations and tests can help a doctor tell whether the symptoms are due to clitoral atrophy or another condition.

If a person has clitoral atrophy, the doctor may be able to identify the cause and recommend appropriate treatments.

Clitoral atrophy involves the clitoris losing sensation and shrinking.

It can cause sexual activity to be less pleasurable and even painful. This may cause frustration and a loss of sexual desire.

There are several possible causes of clitoral atrophy, such as a lack of sexual stimulation, changes in hormone levels, hysterectomy, menopause, and lack of blood flow to the clitoris.

A doctor can diagnose clitoral atrophy, help identify the cause, and recommend treatments.

These may include cardiovascular exercise, regular clitoral stimulation, and hormone therapy.