Written by Clare Widzgowski
Vaginal or labial numbness is not a common symptom of perimenopause, the transitional stage before menopause, however there are vaginal changes that occur during perimenopause that may lead to numbness or a change in sensation. Vaginal numbness can occur for a few reasons:
Due to declining estrogen levels in perimenopause, the issue in and around the vaginal becomes less elastic, loses mass and begins to thin or atrophy. The tissue also begins to lose lubrication and the whole area may become dry. This can lead to a decreased sensitivity of the vaginal and labial area that can seem like numbness. You can read more here about different types of lubrication you can try to increase sensation down there.
There are many changes going on during perimenopause and during midlife that can cause stress. High levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, have been shown to prevent sexual arousal. Those under high stress and trying to have sexual intercourse have described it as feeling ‘numb’ to the act. Cognitive behavioral therapy or sex therapy may help.
- Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD)
If you are currently or have taken SSRI anti-depressant to manage your depression and mood swings in perimenopause or in your life previously, then you may have PSSD. PSSD describes numbness in your genitals, erectile dysfunction in males and a loss of libido after taking SSRI medications. These symptoms can last for periods of time even after stopping SSRI medications. PSSD is a relatively new condition, only as of June 2019 was it recognized by the European Medicines Agency. Talk to your doctor if you think you may have PSSD.
Numbness in the vagina or labia region can be uncomfortable and embarrassing, although oftentimes there are ways to alleviate the symptoms. While some women do experience this in perimenopause, it is not a common symptom and you should discuss it with your healthcare provider. They will be able to give any treatment recommendations after an examination.
Disclaimer: At It’sFetch.co we strive to provide valuable and reliable health information through our blog. We believe in empowering individuals to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. However, it is important to understand that the content on our blog is not intended to replace the advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a qualified medical professional.
Hamilton, L. D., & Meston, C. M. (2013). Chronic stress and sexual function in women. The journal of sexual medicine, 10(10), 2443-2454.
Lane, C. (2019, June 14). Post-ssri sexual dysfunction recognized as medical condition. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/side-effects/201906/post-ssri-sexual-dysfunction-recognized-medical-condition
Marie, S. (2020, April 24). Vaginal numbness isn’t uncommon – here’s why it happens. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/numb-vagina#stress-and-hormones