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Does cycling affect men’s sexual function?

man riding a bike intensely


More people are embracing cycling and it is fast becoming popular as a means for exercise, leisure and even transportation.

But previous studies and the media has been concerned about the ill effects of cycling on men’s’ health especially regarding erectile function.

According to the hypothesis of these studies, the negative impact is caused due to prolonged perineal pressure and micro-trauma during cycling.

However, a large comparative study undertaken by researchers from the University of California found that contrary to the belief, intense and recreational cycling does not have a negative impact on men’s sexual and urinary function.

When comparing the cyclists to other athletes, the researchers found that sexual and injury health was comparable in all. But cyclists were more prone to urethral strictures.

For this study, cyclists were recruited through Facebook and outreach in sporting clubs to complete a survey along with swimmers and runners in a comparison group. Participants included 2,774 cyclists, 539 swimmers, and 789 runners.

The cyclists were categorised as low and high intensity (cycling more than two years more than three times per week, and averaging more than 25 miles per day) cyclists. Non-cyclists were defined as those who swim and/or run but do not cycle.

Participants completed validated questionnaires including SHIM (Sexual Health Inventory for Men), I-PSS (International Prostate Symptom Score) and NIH-CPSI (National Institute of Health Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index), and answered questions about urinary tract infections, urethral stricture, genital numbness and saddle sores.

As well as comparing cyclists to other athletes with or without perineal pressure, the researchers also studied how cycling intensity, bicycle configuration and road conditions might impact sexual and urinary function in men.

Cyclists were also asked about their bike type, saddle type, saddle angle, the frequency of wearing padded shorts while cycling, percent of time standing out of the saddle, handlebar height, and the type of surface on which they usually ride.

When comparing the cyclists to other athletes, the researchers found that sexual and injury health was comparable in all. But cyclists were more prone to urethral strictures.

The researchers also found that high-intensity cyclists overall had better erectile function than low-intensity cyclists.

Road and bike characteristics did not have a negative impact on cyclists.

However, standing 20 percent of the time while cycling reduced the incidence of genital numbness while adjusting the height of the handlebar lower than the saddle height increased the chance of genital numbness and saddle sores.

These results are extremely encouraging for cyclists especially since cycling provides a positive impact on cardiovascular health and it not hard on joint health.

The researchers believe that the positive effects of cycling far outweigh the negative impacts and now the findings of this study add further insight showing us that neither intense cycling or a leisurely bike ride cause any negative impact on men’s sexual and urinary function.

More men should take up riding a bike if that’s what they want to do without worrying about their sexual and urinary health.

Source: The Journal of Urology


Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!