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Death Grip Syndrome: Reality or a Myth?

Being a sexual health columnist, it sometimes becomes difficult to separate fact from fiction. Especially because whatever side I choose, it will have a deep impact on the lives of several readers.

Death Grip Syndrome refers to the insensitivity of the penis which arises because of improper masturbation techniques. Mind you, this is not an officially recognised medical condition since the evidence is mostly anecdotal. Nevertheless, this does not mean it doesn’t exist!

Coined by Dan Savage, it first appeared in magazines back in 2003. And just within a few months, the word caught the wind as more n more people started realizing and relating to the syndrome.

What exactly is Death Grip Syndrome?

It falls under the category of delayed ejaculation which is a subset of erectile dysfunction. Basically, it refers to the condition where you desensitise your penis after years of having some tight grip masturbation technique.

Hyperstimulation leading to decreased sensitivity in the penis isn’t new. Research shows that a person who gets more pleasure from masturbating than from other types of sex is more likely to continue deep-rooted habits, including unique masturbation techniques.

This leads to a vicious cycle in which a person needs to increase the force of masturbation to counteract declining sensitivity.

In layman’s terms:

The more you do it, the more numbed your penis gets, and the faster and harder you have to stroke to be able to feel it.

Over time, this may be the only way you can have an orgasm.


How do you know you have it?

If you answer yes to any 2 of the given questions, you can self diagnose that you indeed have death grip syndrome:

  • Do you only get pleasure when you masturbate with a tight grip?
  • Do you hate using lubricants during sex or masturbating?
  • While having sex, do you wish the organ needs to be “tighter” to give you pleasure?
  • During sex, you find it difficult to orgasm without helping yourself out with your hand.

Okay, so you know you have it. But can you cure it?

Well, the correct term would be “reverse” and not “cure”. There aren’t many research papers available online which addresses this issue as the syndrome is an anecdotal one (as I said). However several men around the globe have reported that they could reverse this syndrome and get back to living a normal sex life.

According to this article, a research team at the University of California have claimed that it is indeed possible to re-sensitize the genitals so that they can enjoy the same amount of pleasure with the usual level of pressure.


What are the factors which give rise to DGS?

There can be many factors that lead to death grip syndrome. Even though they might not seem as obvious at the first glance.

  • Age
    Like with any nerve-muscle interaction, the sensitivity of your penis will decrease with age. Furthermore, with age, there is a drop in the level of testosterone in the body.
    Both these effects come together and are responsible for de-sensitising your penis.

  • Underlying medical conditions
    Diabetes, Peyronie’s disease and hypothyroidism are some of the most common culprits that lead to erectile dysfunction.

    My bets are that these conditions would also have their hands behind making the penis insensitive.

  • Medications, especially for nerve conditions
    Any medicine which alters the normal neurotransmitter level in the body would have strong effects on your sex life. Antidepressants, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have been shown to cause delayed orgasm and low libido.

  • Psychological issues
    If you’re suffering from depression, PTSD or anxiety, there is a high chance that you would experience a form of erectile dysfunction.
    If you’re having problems in your relationship, that could also take a toll on your sex life. It may also explain why you might get more pleasure out of a solo sesh than sex with your partner.

Sex-related fear and anxiety have also been linked to delayed orgasm and difficulty enjoying partnered sex.

Some known triggers of sex-related fear and anxiety include:

  • Fear of getting your partner pregnant
    • Fear of hurting your partner during sex
    • Childhood sexual abuse
    • Sexual trauma

What are some tips to reverse this dreary condition?

Once you know the root of such a problem, the treatment becomes a bit simple.
So here are some quick tips which can help you reverse the issue of death grip syndrome.

  • Change your style of masturbation
    As obvious and silly as it may seem, try to tone down your masturbation techniques. Use softer strokes and don’t use too much pressure on the head.
    This will encourage your penis to sensitise itself to a softer surrounding pressure.

  • Switch your lubes
    If you’ve been using the same type of lube during sex, try to change the brand or the type (silicon/water/oil-based etc)
    In some cases the lubes desensitise the glans and lead to DGS. Try changing it and see if the results differ.

  • Cut down on unhealthy habits
    Be it chronic masturbation or eating junk, with age the problems only increase. Unless you want your hormonal levels to be an added cause behind this problem, try to reduce your unhealthy habits.
    Go out for a jog once in a while, eat your greens and check your alcohol consumption. Rest assured, you’ll definitely see a change.

The bottom line

So you have self-diagnosed your penis to suffer from death grip syndrome. No worries. Gp through our tips and follow them for at least 2-3 months. If you feel that the problem still persists in its initial level of distress, go to a physician.

I’m sure with the right amount of effort and patience, this condition can be easily treated!