Can Cycling Cause Sexual Dysfunction?

Why is cycling associated with the risk of erectile dysfunction? Kita (13) reported three healthy male cyclists (54, 33 and 55 years of age) who developed ED. A total of 3,932 men were eligible for inclusion in the analysis, of whom 23% were high-intensity cyclists, 47% low intensity, and 30% non-cyclists. The penis (and the female clitoris) is attached deep within the pelvis. A generalized linear mixed-effects model was used to fit the collected data for meta-analysis. How do alcohol and marijuana affect sexual performance?, since most of [our sexuality] occurs ‘above the neck,’ topical cannabis misses the really important sexual organ, the brain. Thirteen percent (21 men) developed erectile dysfunction that generally lasted more than a week.

Kerstein et al (25) measured penile systolic pressures using a digital blood pressure cuff before, during and after subjects sat on an unpadded bicycle saddle.

Instead, he tried a noseless saddle he found on the Internet called the Spiderflex. Genital numbness, depending on their weekly training distances, developed in 58. 4%, respectively. But what this study is starting to show is that cyclists should not deny all the symptoms. Adjust the height of your handlebars slightly until you find a comfortable position. But possibly the two most interesting elements are the fact that the research summary we’ve seen indicates firstly that ‘bike seat type’, by which we assume the researchers mean saddle, had ‘no significant effect on results’, and secondly that both males and females had higher scores on their respective sexual function tests. Bicycle seats without a nose cause the least compromise in blood flow to the penis and urethra.

  • This finding lines up with previous studies of ED in those who spend much of their working life on a bike, including police officers and bike taxi riders.
  • LaSalle MD, Wen C, Choi M, et al.


The two recent UCSF articles refuting the link between cycling and sexual dysfunction argued that previous studies asserting that link were inadequate because they had used small sample sizes and had not employed validated measures. BBC News accurately reported on the study's findings, but would have benefited from acknowledging its design has limitations. The authors found that he had a prolonged pudendal nerve latency and a dispersed compound action potential. A review of the literature. That study prompted a flurry of media activity, with various publications claiming the myth had been busted; that cycling didn’t cause ED.

Indeed, in one study, 55% of the subjects ranked the partial cutout saddle as the most comfortable. Recently, the saddle designer Roger Minkow reached out to me about the topic. Likewise, if you already have ED or if you bicycle frequently, consider reducing your bicycling time, using a different bike seat, or even changing your bicycling style. It provides no evidence that cyclists are at risk of sexual or urinary dysfunction – but because of the study's design, it can't definitely exclude the possibility there's a link either.

Sitting on a bicycle seat (sometimes called a saddle) puts pressure on the perineum. A systematic comprehensive literature review. Some medical and occupational health researchers say they don’t prevent erectile dysfunction, that the modifications don’t necessarily ensure adequate blood flow to the penis. That advice has since become common in medical journal articles -- but it’s not welcomed by many cyclists. Refocus your attention., this helps cure ED and improve both your ejaculatory command. This finding of pudendal neuralgia in an individual with a longstanding history of bicycling was strongly suggestive of a pudendal nerve injury secondary to nerve compression.


Many of his saddles feature cut-outs in the middle to relieve pressure on part of the perineum. Straddling compresses the nerves and arteries running through the Alcock canal against the ischiopubic ramus, which frequently results in complaints of numbness in the penile/scrotal area after cycling. As there are so many numerous designs, there is no correct answer, and the most expensive saddle is not the best.

Pudendal arteriography and colour Doppler ultrasound revealed the formation of an arteriolacunar fistula within the corpus cavernosum.


Transcutaneous penile oxygen pressure during bicycling. Risk factors for male pattern baldness, doing so will help you reduce the risks of developing ED, as well as alcohol-related issues such as liver damage and memory loss. 27–30, 32, 34. “You don’t hop on it the first day and do exactly what you did with your old seat. What is bicycle riding associated with urethral stricture risk?

A study in The Journal of Urology found handlebar height parallel with or higher than the saddle increased the risk of ED compared with handlebars height lower than saddle height. 3% of the cyclists. Experienced cyclists say that riding noseless saddles is like pedaling perched on a soccer ball. For example, men with a frequent need to urinate may be less likely to take up cycling for fear of being "caught short" when out on a bike. However, given that factors such as physical health and mental wellbeing all have an effect on sexual function, if cyclists are fitter and happier, that may well lead to a happier sex life. But according to Dr. There are so many options. which ed drug is the best for me? However, it has been reported by riders that noseless saddles lead to a feeling of less control over the bike since their thighs are not fully in contact with the saddle.

Fortunately, the reduction in blood flow is usually temporary and can be restored if you stand up for a while. In a study of a saddle without a nose compared to a traditional saddle with a protruding nose, the traditional saddle was associated with two times greater perineal pressure than the noseless saddle. Vertical loads of the perineum to the saddle can be as high as 52% of the rider's body weight, whereas shear loads can reach 12% of body weight. It is especially helpful to men of a certain age as cycling gives benefits to the heart and has low impact on joints. A bicycle saddle with a long nose compresses the bulbar section of the urethra (located inside the spongy body of the penis) and can jeopardize urethral blood flow and increase the chances of stricture development (after repeated injuries in this area). But if it’s in the anus or if it’s in the other areas in the perineum it does not correlate yet with ED. “Changing your saddle affects your entire fit,” he told CyclingTips.

Bontrager Commuter Comp Bike Saddle

He presented 10 days later with painless, high-flow priapism. Blood flow is detected by other sensors that send a "swoosh" sound to a Doppler machine. So it seems, according to this preliminary data, that cyclists have a better sex life than non-cyclists, at least marginally. Urologists urge men to see a doctor if they notice at least one symptom from the list: Doing this activity less than three hours a week caused no erection impairment, but based on the cyclist's age, longer-duration cycling raised the risk 72 percent above normal. Here are a number of suggestions that may help reduce the risk of perineal symptoms. The study of women points out the possibility of "survivor bias," meaning that someone who experienced sexual dysfunction might quit biking because of it and therefore wouldn't participate in the study. But is cycling and ED a serious problem?

If the fit is correct, sized for your sit bone width and suited for the kind of riding your doing, it should give way to the experience of riding a bike altogether, says Garrett Getter, an exercise physiologist and current product manager for saddles at the aforementioned California-based bike maker, Specialized. Explore, vardenafil ODT therapy was statistically significantly superior to placebo for all primary and secondary efficacy variables ( ) [84]. Arteries in the penis can be pinched between the seat and the pelvic bone. They reported that cycling on a saddle designed for women (wide, medium-padded seat without a saddle nose) reduced penile oxygen pressure by only 20. The vertical pressure is dependent on the rider's body weight as well as riding position. Many saddle manufactures today make saddles with grooves, cut out holes and cutaways. In both cases, the genital hypoesthesia resolved after seven and four weeks, respectively, during which the patients strictly refrained from cycling. How do you treat erectile dysfunction? When seeking online ED treatment, it’s essential to give a full and accurate overview of your current medical history to be sure there will be no complications when taking the medication and you will be able to use it to treat your erectile dysfunction. In another meta-analysis investigating perineal symptoms and cycling (62 articles), numbness of the genitalia was reported in 50%-91% of all cyclists, and erectile dysfunction was reported in 13%-24% of all cyclists. When men sit in chairs the "sit bones" of the buttocks bear the body's weight.

  • “There are only two kinds of male cyclists -- those who are impotent and those who will be impotent,” many bike riders scoffed.
  • “You can’t judge a book by the cover,” he says, meaning that one’s gender and appearance are not enough to tell “a teenager working in a bike shop” how far apart those bones are and therefore which saddle to recommend.


As for the Scythians, however, who identified horseback riding as a possible cause of male impotence in the ninth century BCE, the relationship between bicycle riding and ED has become a matter of concern. Copyright information, the causes may be physical (organic ED), psychological (psychogenic ED), or a combination of both. Users are asked about saddles they’ve used in recent years, their riding history, as well as any sexual issues they might have encountered. Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health(NIOSH) evaluated 17 members of a bicycling police patrol unit in Cincinnati, Ohio. Neither bicycle nor road characteristics appeared to have a negative impact on cyclists. Bicycle seats and penile blood flow: While companies pushing drugs like Viagra and Cialis keep stalking their middle-aged male audiences with commercial after commercial on NFL Sunday—hawking little blue pills meant to evoke suggestive smiles and the dimming of lights—Dr. What is lisinopril ? It is usually described as a dry cough that develops after taking lisinopril for a while. Also, all participants in this study were physically active.

He found that a narrow, unpadded saddle reduced cavernosal arterial flow by 36%, compared with a 17% reduction in those on a padded saddle. Regardless of personal variations, however, numbness is one of the few warning signs that something’s amiss. The past several decades have borne witness to a booming interest in recreational and competitive cycling. The connection between bike riding and erectile dysfunction is one you may never have considered.

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The risk was highest among men who cycled more than three hours a week. Can you give an example of how you treat a cycling-related health problem? Unlike the ischial tuberosity, which has evolved into the perfect place to bear body weight, the ischiopubic ramus is a working area that contains erectile tissue, nerves, arteries, and the urethra. Overall, this study provides no evidence that cycling is harmful to men's health. Just as many smokers do not get lung cancer, many cyclists will never develop impotence from bicycle seats, the scientists said. Acute trauma—falling on the crossbar, for example—can also contribute to the development of ED.

The researchers additionally recruited men by contacting international cycling, swimming and running groups.


How common are cycling-related perineal symptoms? In a study of erectile dysfunction and bicycle characteristics, researchers determined that keeping handlebar height lower than saddle height in long-distance cyclists was associated with less erectile dysfunction, perhaps because this configuration puts the rider in a leaning-forward position which may reduce vertical load on the perineum. Vacuum erection devices, this image demonstrates the vacuum device in place (see previous image). Small observational studies have also showed a relatively high prevalence of ED among elite cyclists, who often report penile numbness and changes in sensation after cycling. Participants completed a range of questionnaires focusing on sexual health and prostate symptoms, and answered questions about urinary tract infections, urethral strictures and genital numbness. Answering these questions alongside a fitter who understands cycling and basic physiology is the best way to remedy a numb taint. Two kinds of injury can actually lead to atherosclerosis in a bicyclist. But if you do, and they continue after you make adjustments in your bike or riding style, then see your doctor because they probably won't get better on their own if you continue to bike. Goldstein, as a last resort, will recommend bypass surgery to restore blood flow, but the procedure is considered experimental by some urologists.

Links To The Science

Eighty-four per cent reported that bicycling had resulted in at least one episode of perineal numbness or soreness. But this may make matters worse: In a study called a meta-analysis (where many studies on the same subject are summarized), results of 35 studies conducted between 1981 and 2020 that examined the relationship between cycling and erectile dysfunction showed that the prevalence of moderate to severe erectile dysfunction in bicyclists was 4. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician. Cycling and penile oxygen pressure: Cycling surface and type of bike had no effect on scores, while men who'd never worn padded shorts were less likely to report genital numbness or saddle sores. You don’t have to give up biking to preserve your sexual function.

What Is The Risk Of Erectile Dysfunction When Cycling?

Even so, the researchers say that, without a doubt, the many health benefits of cycling — it's burns hundreds of calories per hour, tones your entire body, and puts less pressure on your knees and hips than running does — greatly outweigh any potential health risks. Can women get perineal symptoms? In three studies of the angle of the saddle, it was confirmed that a downward tilted saddle reduced stress and compression on the perineum. Wear bike shorts. There were no differences between groups with the responses given about prostate health. His doctor advised him to give up the bike.

The primary problem with bicycle riding is the bicycle saddle.

Nerve compression can numb the penis; arterial compression limits blood flow into the organ. In a recent study of a new saddle (Selle SMP) with a large cutout and downward facing nose (the front of the saddle), the saddle was clearly superior in preventing vascular compression and penile blood flow occlusion compared with more standard saddle designs. A key finding of the MMAS was the relationship between moderate cycling (<3 hours per week) or sport cycling (>=3 hours per week) and the development of ED. Earlier research has suggested that bike riding puts enough pressure on the family jewels to damage sperm and hamper blood blow to the penis, making it tough to get it up. High-intensity cyclists also recorded slightly better erectile function scores than low-intensity cyclists.

This pressure can lead to blockages in the arteries that feed blood to the penis – blockages that line up exactly where a bike seat fits a man’s perineum. Riders on large gel seats sink in, and the gel tends to bunch up under the tender bits, cutting off blood flow. For some 19 years Dr Minkow worked with Specialized, using penile blood flow measurements to help guide the design of a range of saddles. Get your butt on a bike four or more days a week. But that can be the worst choice for circulation, some experts say. Based on the research published to date, it is suggested that a 24–48 hour period of abstinence from cycling and ejaculation before a PSA test will help avoid spurious results.

It depends entirely on the fit of your seat.

Why is bicycle riding associated with ED risk?

Selling saddles to reduce perineal pressure is one thing. And it isn’t inevitable—there are many things you can do to protect your sexual health as you cycle to improve your overall health. One of the most cited papers in this space was published in 1997 after K. “Riding should be banned and outlawed. The knee should be just slightly bent. Doctors say if numbness persists, you should change your seat or adjust your bike fit. McCullough for inviting me here today. The authors note that perineal compression time can be reduced by cycling less often or standing up on the pedals, but discourage giving up cycling altogether owing to its cardiovascular benefits, which actually protect against ED, as well as the benefits to the environment.

Some cyclists opt for a big, soft-gel seat.

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Schrader and Goldstein, who are not involved in the design of bike seats, and other independent medical researchers say that the best design to prevent erectile dysfunction is a saddle without a nose. Ryan — who does not want his real name used because of the intimate nature of his problem -- found himself sexually impotent. Int J Impot Res 2020, 14(6): The random sample included a variety of cyclists, such as recreational and occasional riders, stationary bikers, and serious sport cyclists. The nerves in the perineum are being pinched, which means that the artery that feeds the penis is also being compressed. After years of using a conventional saddle, the 31-year-old cyclist developed scar tissue on his urethra and had difficulty urinating. Unfortunately, most bicyclists bear their body weight on a bicycle seat that is not wide enough to support the ischial tuberosities.

Consider padding the top tube. Amarenco et al (31) described several treatments for patients with perineal neuralgia: In the MMAS, men who remained physically inactive had the highest risk for ED, whereas those who began exercising or who continued to exercise throughout the study had the lowest levels of ED. Erectile dysfunction. Participants may not be representative of everyone. The former is interesting, but without more detailed information on what the researchers mean by ‘seat type’ and ‘significant’ we can’t comment. 4% on a more traditional saddle (narrow, heavily-padded seat) (Table 2). Does bicycling contribute to the risk of erectile dysfunction?


2% of cyclists had moderate to complete ED, compared with 1. For that, you can thank two decades-old studies that coupled groin pressure with dated saddle designs. Readers, thoughts? To review current literature on the rationale for ED from bicycle riding and outcome of bicycle riding on erectile function and to present available research on preventative measures specifically regarding bicycle riding. This increasing participation in cycling deserves investigation of the potential traumatic and overuse injuries experienced by cyclists. “And this is, in a way, where we started a long time ago. Bicycle saddle design has been the target of a great deal of scholarly and commercial research.