Clitoral atrophy: if left uncatered, your clitoris can lose sensation, shrink and even disappear

By Alma Fabiani

Published Dec 4, 2022 at 09:15 AM

Reading time: 2 minutes

Yes, you read that headline correctly, and no, this is not clickbait—no one in their right mind would joke about something like this. Clitoral atrophy is very much real, and guess what the main cause behind the condition is: a worrying lack of sexual use.

What is clitoral atrophy?

As painful as it is to admit, before I go more in-depth into the cause, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for clitoral atrophy, I’ll need to walk you through a quick anatomy refresh—not to point the finger but if you’re a heterosexual, female-identifying reader, you’ll know precisely why this is necessary.

The clitoris is a nub of spongy tissue located at the front of the vagina. Not many people know this, but recent research has shown that much of the clitoris is internal, having four-inch roots that reach into the vagina. When sexually aroused, it fills with blood, which in turn makes the bundle of nerves in the tissue become highly sensitive to touch.

Clitoral atrophy occurs when the clitoris stops responding to sexual arousal—basically when it no longer functions as it should. According to Healthline, the clitoris can become dry and thin, and it can even shrink and disappear behind the clitoral hood. Disappear.

What causes clitoral atrophy?

The condition can be the result of a change in hormones or inadequate blood flow to the vagina and clitoris—with the latter being the result of infrequent use. I’m not kidding, bean-flicking has never seemed so important.

In other words, those who aren’t sexually active are more likely to experience clitoral atrophy. Because the clitoris relies on adequate blood flow, your doctor may recommend regular sexual activity, including—you guessed it—masturbation. This can help restore blood flow, which may boost sensation again.

A major shift in hormones (such as menopause or starting hormonal birth control) may also be a cause for it. Here’s why that is: testosterone is responsible for your libido. The sponge-like tissue in a clitoris also needs the hormone for proper arousal. Testosterone levels, however, fall as menopause nears, and may also decrease when starting birth control or oestrogen supplements.

The same can also happen to those who have a full hysterectomy—because the ovaries are responsible for producing both oestrogen and testosterone, removing them can sometimes lead to a loss of testosterone.

Oh, the loss of oestrogen following a hysterectomy can also lead to vaginal atrophy (also called vaginismus), which is in fact more common than clitoral atrophy and occurs when a drop in oestrogen causes the vaginal tissues to become dry, thin, and inflamed. Apparently (and terrifyingly), it’s common with menopause.

Can clitoral atrophy be reversed?

Loss of sensation is a serious sexual issue. The clitoris is often considered a key to female orgasm, with its many nerves being able to produce intense sensations during sexual activity. If you already suffer from the condition, sadly, penetrative sex and traditional vibrators won’t be able to help you feel much down there.

That being said, clitoral suction sex toys might become your new best friends as they are ideally placed to treat clit atrophy. These toys don’t need to touch your clitoris for stimulation—instead, they use air pressure to create a suction force and deliver deep sonic pulses that indirectly stimulate the clitoris. They can send deep vibrations through your entire clitoral structure even if the clitoral tip is hidden from plain view.

And according to the multi-award-winning pleasure company Biird, “Consistent masturbation with clit suction toys can treat clitoral atrophy, making the clitoral tip reappear.”

In the case of the condition happening because of the loss of oestrogen, so not due to insufficient blood circulation, oestrogen therapy might be your best option—either as a topical ointment or an internet treatment.

You heard it here first: don’t ignore your pleasure nub for too long or it might just leave you for good…

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