The head of the penis contains many nerve endings that make it very sensitive. However, it is possible for a penis to be too sensitive, which can impact sexual and everyday activities.
Some level of penile sensitivity is necessary for arousal and obtaining an erection. But a hypersensitive penis may lead to discomfort and distress.
There are several reasons why a person’s penis may feel overly sensitive, and there are several options for managing this common condition.
This article discusses the possible causes of penis sensitivity, treatment options, and prevention tips.
Some potential causes of a sensitive penis may include:
Phimosis and paraphimosis
Phimosis is a condition that occurs when the foreskin cannot pull back from around the tip of the penis completely. Because of this, the penis may become very sensitive and painful with extra friction.
Some people may also experience paraphimosis. This is when a person pulls the foreskin behind the head of the penis, and it becomes stuck. This may cause pain and swelling.
Common causes of a tight foreskin may include inflammation, trauma, or infection.
Balanitis is inflammation of the head of the penis. It is relatively common, affecting roughly 3–11% of males during their lifetime, and is not usually a cause for concern. However, it is essential to get a proper diagnosis from a doctor.
Common causes may include infection, skin condition, or irritation.
Urinary tract infections
A urinary tract infection (UTI) may also cause pain or a sensitive penis. The pain or sensitivity may be stronger when the person is urinating or ejaculating due to inflammation in the urethra. According to a 2020 article, UTIs are typically uncommon in circumcised males.
Some research notes that in males, inflammation in the urethra may also be due to restrictions in the flow to the urethra, such as from an inflamed prostate. Doctors will want to fully diagnose each case to be sure to find the root cause.
Injuries and trauma to the penis may also cause sensitivity. This may include injuries from rough sex or masturbation, sports injuries, or other traumas.
Injuries may cause other symptoms, such as inflammation, redness, and swelling. Direct trauma may cause bruising, and some people may find it difficult to urinate or get an erection.
In some cases, injuries may cause less sensitivity in the penis or a tingling sensation. The symptoms may go away as the injury heals, though symptoms may last longer in severe cases.
If a person is uncircumcised and frequently experiences a sensitive penis, they could speak to their doctor about circumcision. If the sensitivity is due to the foreskin, a circumcision may help prevent future sensitivity.
However, the procedure can cause pain in older children and grown men. Therefore, a person should discuss all the risks and benefits with their doctor before proceeding.
There may be a link between people with premature ejaculation (PE) and hypersensitivity in the penis.
While many people feel embarrassed about premature ejaculation, it is a widespread condition and nothing to be ashamed of. A study posted to Scientific Reports notes that it is the most common sexual dysfunction, affecting about 20–30% of the male population.
Several factors may cause premature ejaculation, such as genetics, heightened nerve sensitivity, and disturbances in nerve transmission.
Occasionally, physical conditions may also influence premature ejaculation, such as:
Some people may experience premature ejaculation after becoming sexually active. This may be due to increased penile sensitivity, traumatic sexual experiences, a strict upbringing, or conditioning to ejaculate quickly.
Treatment for a sensitive penis will depend entirely on the underlying cause.
Simple causes, such as infections, will need antibiotics, antifungals, or antiprotozoals to clear the infection. The National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom emphasize the importance of keeping the penis clean by washing it regularly with warm water.
In cases of phimosis and paraphimosis, doctors may recommend steroid creams to help stretch the foreskin beyond the head of the penis. In some cases, a doctor may make an incision known as a ‘dorsal slit’ to widen the foreskin and avoid sensitivity and pain.
Sensitivity from injury should fade as the injury heals, though in some cases, the person may need additional treatment.
According to the Urology Care Foundation, people with premature ejaculation can reduce sensitivity in their penis for sexual play by using desensitizing sprays, lubrications, or ointments.
This may help delay ejaculation and decrease sensitivity in the penis. The effects are temporary, and the person may have to reapply the treatment.
People struggling with chronic sensitivity may want to consider psychotherapy methods, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This may help a person work through mental blocks surrounding sex or even develop patterns to control the effects of hypersensitivity.
In more challenging premature ejaculation instances, some doctors may recommend off-label use of a low dose of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are oral antidepressants.
A study posted to the International Brazilian Journal of Urology states that many of the most available SSRI drugs effectively treat premature ejaculation without serious complications.
Though it may not be possible to prevent all causes of a sensitive penis, some general practices may help.
General hygiene and practicing sex with a condom may help prevent some forms of infection. Wearing a protective cup during athletic events may help protect against injury.
Those with phimosis should avoid pulling the foreskin back too far to cause sensitivity and pain. Never force the foreskin past the head of the penis, as it may get stuck.
If penile sensitivity or premature ejaculation affects intimacy, it is important to discuss this with a partner. Be confident and direct when talking about it and emphasize that it is a health concern and not a personal problem.
There are ways to address the issue together. For example, this may involve approaching foreplay differently or finding other ways to be intimate.
Some people may benefit from couples counseling or experimenting with premature ejaculation products, such as creams, sprays, or condoms.
If a person is worried about their penile sensitivity, they should see a doctor.
Sensitivity that causes overstimulation and premature ejaculation is not an immediate cause for concern. However, seeing a doctor may provide treatment options.
A person with phimosis, paraphimosis, or a penile infection should see their doctor to discuss treatment.
A sensitive penis is normal in some cases, and some people may be more sensitive to friction and arousal on their penis. Other times, sensitivity may be due to an underlying issue.
Sensitivity itself may also cause issues and may decrease a person’s sexual satisfaction. Working with a doctor in each case may help find a successful treatment for the underlying cause of the sensitive penis.