Erectile Dysfunction: Study Compares Cycling With Other Sports

Erectile Dysfunction: Study Compares Cycling With Other Sports

Feldman HA, Goldstein I, Hatzichristou DG, Krane RJ, McKinlay JB. 3%, compared with 82. Int J Sports Med 2020, 22(6): Proposed prevention and treatment strategies for erectile dysfunction among cyclists are reviewed. Variations in anatomy may also make a difference.

  • They were treated successfully with percutaneous arterial embolization.
  • How can cyclists participate?
  • Finally, supervising children and providing them with properly fitting bicycles and seats—just as we do with protective helmets—is also essential to avoid injury and preserve sexual functioning.

While bicycle riding is a good way to exercise, it can increase your risk for developing erectile dysfunction(ED) and urethral stricture (weak urinary stream). I recently saw a man with persistent penile numbness after several long bike rides. Shafik (24) diagnosed seven patients complaining of long-standing ED as having pudendal nerve compression. A study of 2,000 men attending fertility clinics in Boston showed that men biking five or more hours per week had lower sperm concentration and lower active sperm. And yet another study, published in the International Journal of Impotence Research in 2020, found that men who rode for less than three hours a week decreased their risk of ED, compared with noncyclists, possibly because of the benefits to the cardiovascular system. What you eat can give you staying power. A SHIM score of between 17 and 21 is taken as a sign of mild erectile dysfunction, where an inability to obtain or maintain an erection is an occasional problem as opposed to a frequent problem. Pudendal neuritis from biking [letter]. In contrast, regular exercise improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, improves lipid levels, and lowers the risk of ED.

A Bicycling Magazine headline tells men, Cycling Won’t Kill Your Erection, and another says to women, Cycling Can Boost Your Sex Life. But what this study is starting to show is that cyclists should not deny all the symptoms. In both cases, the genital hypoesthesia resolved after seven and four weeks, respectively, during which the patients strictly refrained from cycling. The aerobic exercise required for biking has strong cardiovascular benefits and has also been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes and hypertension. John g., if you were a passenger or driving someone else’s car, you may be able to recover uninsured benefits from your own car insurance. “There are so many lesser considered reasons why people experience fit and comfort challenges when riding — finding the right saddle type is just one of them,” says Bregan Koenigseker, a former employee and current consultant for London-based saddle manufacturer Brooks England. What’s the risk of avid bike riding and ED? Thick gels on saddles can also increase pressure to the perineum, the studies found, because the material can migrate and form clumps in all the wrong places.

Best Bike Seats for Serious Cyclists

When you sit on a chair, your weight is distributed across both buttocks. Bicycle seats and penile blood flow: Studies have noted that these ergonomical saddles are an improvement over narrow, unpadded saddles. Selling saddles to reduce perineal pressure is one thing. This area is very well vascularized and allows humans to sit comfortably and safely for hours. If they still experience pain and numbness from riding, or have any ED or sensitivity issues, regardless of comfort, then noseless may be the best option.

But biking, he says, is the most common culprit. The majority of the above reports concluded that the sensory changes were likely caused by perineal vascular compression. Thus, any blow in the area between the anus and the scrotum can potentially injure the penis or urethra. Ultimately, men must make their own decisions about the risks and benefits of bicycle riding. ’ And they basically tend to deny that there’s a problem,” he said. The study lacked peer review and had a few key flaws (a large age gap between the cyclists and non-cyclists could have skewed the results), but a number of subsequent scientific studies have come to a similar conclusion: 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). Aromatherapy for body, mind & spirit, according to an animal study, inhaling lavender oil decreased the formaldehyde-induced reproductive damage in rats. Cycling is increasingly popular for transportation, exercise, and leisure, and its impact on sexual health has received a great deal of media attention, especially regarding erectile function.

  • For women, there seemed to be no ‘appreciable’ effect on sexual or urinary functions, and no ‘significant’ urinary symptom differences between cyclists and non-cyclists, though as we haven’t seen the paper in full, we can’t comment on how the researchers are defining ‘significant’, and it may relate to frequency, severity, or a combination of several measures.
  • Recently, the saddle designer Roger Minkow reached out to me about the topic.
  • Beyond saddle type, however, there are a slew of other variables you should be asking about (predominantly related to fit) when doing your homework.
  • In his time in the saddle game, Dr Minkow has come across many men who have chosen to ignore numbness or pain — something he views as a big mistake.
  • I think we're just going to end up making one.
  • Racing cyclists lean forward so that the majority of their body weight is on the pedals, not the seat.


But the same research found that cycling more than three hours a week nearly doubled the risk of ED, compared with noncyclists. In the largest study of its kind, 5,300 male cyclists completed a questionnaire detailing their riding habits and any ED symptoms or doctor-diagnosed infertility they’d experienced. Experiment with different heights of the seat and handlebars until everything feels comfortable. J Urol 1982, 127(1): He’s been working with a small component manufacturer in Switzerland called ERE Research, developing a new range of saddles. Bicycling is a terrific way to get from one place to another. Rights, the chemical composition of the juice and seeds of pomegranate fruits. There is, however, a potential downside to biking; sitting on the bicycle seat may result in the compression of nerves and blood vessels of the vulnerable area of the body called the perineum.

It's a matter of individual suitability and trial and error, so we are not going to endorse any particular saddle type. Does bicycling contribute to the risk of erectile dysfunction? He found that a narrow, unpadded saddle reduced cavernosal arterial flow by 36%, compared with a 17% reduction in those on a padded saddle. Subsequent studies suggested an unusually high risk of erection problems in serious cyclists.

Join or Renew Today!

The multinational study, published last year in the Journal of Urology, compared the urinary and erectile function of 2,774 cyclists, 539 swimmers, and 789 runners. Schrader, for example, suggested that the officers use a bike saddle that did not have a protruding nose. Saying the equipment housed in their spandex shorts worked just fine, they optimistically kept riding. Ed in elderly men affected with psychiatric disorders, this creates a vacuum that causes the blood to fill your penis, making it erect. In a new report in The Journal of Urology®, researchers found that contrary to some previous studies, neither recreational nor intense cycling appear to have a negative impact on men's sexual and urinary function. This takes pressure off the perineum, a region of the body that runs from the anus to the sex organs. We don't know for sure how long the current physical activity pattern – or any sexual problems – have gone on for and whether one has directly led to the other. Observe one of your legs while it is at the bottom of the pedal cycle.

Stanford Bio-X

Amarenco et al (31) described several treatments for patients with perineal neuralgia: The development of a model to investigate the relationship of bicycling and pudendal neurovascular function in healthy male subjects. They did have about twice the incidence of urethral strictures—scarring or narrowing in the urethra—but it wasn't common and didn’t appear to affect urinary health. Its narrow protruding nose squeezes the nerves and blood vessels in the pudendal canal and stops the flow of blood to the genitals. The survey asked questions about men's sexual and urinary function, and compared the results of cyclists with non-cyclists. If your bike does not allow for angle adjustment on the seat, consider getting a new bike that does.

Minkow says those studies look at older cut-out models than his. Bicycling and erectile dysfunction: It’s not discomfort. Participants were surveyed on sexual health, prostate symptoms, urinary tract infections, genital numbness, and saddle sores. He says the authors have “no idea who's participating in the trial. Saddles with holes cut out of them may increase pressure inadvertently or pinch. “Changing your saddle affects your entire fit,” he told CyclingTips.

Arguments have been made for nerve compression, arterial insufficiency and ischemic neuropathy. “Cyclists dismiss these kind of symptoms and go ‘Ah it’s just part of riding. When all the data were analyzed, the cyclists had no more urinary or sexual health problems than swimmers or runners. An internal pudendal arteriogram revealed a laceration of the left cavernosal artery. Shafik (33) has since improved on the technique and has successfully employed a laparoscopic approach to pudendal canal decompression.

Your Underlying Taint Troubles, Explained

This may not be desirable for all riders, but number of miles per week can be a factor. Related conditions & procedures, contributing factors for ED can be psychological, physical or both and therefore it is recommended that you see a doctor if you develop ED to check for any underlying causes and to discuss treatment. There are many reasons men, young and old, cannot achieve or maintain an erection. But it's a cross-sectional survey, so it's not possible to link cause and effect. N Engl J Med 1981, 304(6): To be safe, some doctors simply advise cycling in moderation. 5% increase in PSA in healthy male cyclists greater than 50 years old, when measured within 5 minutes post-cycling.

You should not give up cycling, just make a few changes in travel. © 2020 chesapeake urology associates, p.a. - all rights reserved. There was a link between cycling and urethral strictures, but this should be interpreted with some caution. Many factors can contribute to perineal symptoms, and you will need to experiment with all of the factors mentioned in this article if you do experience them.

If erectile dysfunction still occurs, visit a doctor to find out the reasons and find a solution that will restore sex life safely and effectively. It’s the platform for which you sit on the bike, holistically. The interaction between the bicycle seat (saddle) and the perineum is the culprit in all cases of perineal symptoms in cyclists. Narrow bicycle seats do not support your entire posterior like a chair does. Due to the increased compression caused by the saddle of the bicycle, microtraumas occur, which reduce the blood supply and lead to neuralgia of the genital nerve, The first alarming symptoms (they also occur in women) are paresthesia in the perineal region – abnormal burning and tingling sensations, sensory disturbances in the perineum and genital areas, reduced testosterone levels in men.

What Were The Basic Results?

Perhaps the best advice is to make biking part of a balanced fitness program instead of relying on it exclusively. When to see a doctor? The injury can also be caused by a sudden blow or chronic recurring minor injuries, after several weeks and months of long cycling. Psychological causes of erectile dysfunction, a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to assess the efficacy of sildenafil citrate in men with unrecognized erectile dysfunction. Ricchiuti et al (11) demonstrated electromyographical evidence of pudendal nerve injury in an otherwise healthy bicyclist.

Schrader SM, Breitenstein MJ, Clark JC, et al. As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. But according to Dr. Visit a local bike shop to get properly fitted. Yes, I cycle on the road for both pleasure and exercise. He then took a scalpel to existing seats, cutting away sections to improve the blood supply to the penis.

The piece profiled men who blamed their erectile dysfunction on cycling, and quoted Dr. This "occlusion force" is then compared with the force each bike seat exerts during a series of rides. But it also can't prove that cycling doesn't have any negative impact.

  • More streamlined riding positions – either when the rider is holding the "drops" (the lowest parts of racing handlebars) or using elbow supports on a time-trial bike – are when saddles with cut-outs are especially helpful, Denver says.
  • Further research needed?
  • The variables that contribute to perineal symptoms during biking are complicated, and so it may be that you need to experiment with different strategies until you find the right one for you.
  • Before we discuss the findings of the MMAS, a brief anatomy review should help explain how bicycling can contribute to or cause sexual dysfunction.
  • The 52-year-old Northern California cyclist with ED problems ultimately decided to try a noseless saddle.

Clinical Investigations

We then ask participants about their overall health — such as their weight, body measurements and basic medical history. You’d better use a cycle for short riding or lightweight training. The assumption Minkow and Sommer were working under was that reduced blood flow to the penis (caused by the squashing effect of the bike saddle) would result in scar tissue build-up. J Sex Reprod Med 2020;2(2): Alcock’s canal is where the nerves and arteries travel on their way to the penis. The survey involved 1709 men aged 40 to 70 years.

While the positive effects of cycling are well known, which include improved cardiovascular health, strength, stress reduction and an improvement in mental wellbeing, there have also long been discussions on the link between cycling and various sexual and urinary tract health issues such as erectile dysfunction, perineal numbness, UTIs and saddle sores.


The first patient presented after an amateur bike race, and the second patient presented after a two- to five-day biking tour. Only a small number of riders get prostatitis from riding their bikes. The classical study in the British Journal of Urology in 2020 showed that a grooved seat allows better preservation of the seat-symphysis space than a standard seat, but the rider’s position is more important for preserving the seat-symphysis space (and reducing compression) than is seat design alone. The second point — higher scores in sexual function tests — is true of both men and women. They found that the 44-year-old man had a prolonged pudendal nerve latency along with a dispersed compound action potential. While rare, this condition can result in chronic pain, numbness, and yup, you guessed it, sexual dysfunction. Other risk factors, Pruitt says, involve the shape of one's pelvis (how much it is inclined to rock forward) and how deep in the soft tissue one's nerves and arteries lie.

He wasn’t working alone. 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. Note the cut-out design - so popular in fact, the company has just released one for women, the Mimic. Silbert PL, Dunne JW, Edis RH, Stewart-Wynne EG.

A similar procedure of pudendal neurovascular bundle decompression resulted in improved penile erections in eight of 10 patients within 12 weeks.

What You Can Do

This can be done in a number of ways: Schwarzer U, Wiegand W, Bin-Saleh A, et al. In the survey, we obtain a comprehensive look at the cycling habits of men and women, including the type of riding they do, their intensity level and details about their equipment. Thus far, the study has had 16 volunteer subjects, most of them in their 30s and 40s. Focal damage to the endothelium of the arteries inside the pudendal canal can disrupt the blood supply to the penis and cause erectile dysfunction, either immediately or with a delay of up to a year.

What occurs in a healthy 22-year-old bicycle rider, however, differs from what takes place in a 62-year-old in that the older man will most likely also have atherosclerosis of the coronary, cerebral, and leg arteries in addition to the penile arteries. Penile pressure after 5 min of sitting was 60% of baseline. However, an overly aggressive downward tilt would put undue stress on the shoulders and arms.

Solomon and Cappa (10) reported a 55-year-old man with a three-year history of riding a stationary bicycle. But that can be the worst choice for circulation, some experts say. Meanwhile, one finding of the study was that increased standing on the pedals while cycling was associated with lower odds of numbness. 5 key questions to help you develop a caregiving plan, you may also like:. Let’s break it down. 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. J Urol 1999, 161: When comparing cyclists to non-cyclists in an unadjusted analysis, there were no significant differences in the odds of having ED or mean SHIM score.

Perspective: Sharing Space with Copperheads 

Cyclists participate in the study by completing a brief online survey that takes about 15 minutes. The nerve arises from the sacral region of the spinal cord (S2-S4). The main problem is associated with the bicycle saddle. Create a plan to relieve your back pain, there are many factors that contribute to ED, notably poor diet, lack of sleep, and stress. The artery passes through the urogenital diaphragm and divides into four terminal branches – the bulbar, urethral, dorsal and cavernosal (deep) arteries. “So the ERE saddles — [they] will not come out until probably June — will be scientifically based with the most modern information that we have.

The clinical evidence behind this theory lies in the anatomy of the male perineum. Change your position on the saddle while biking. A better study design would be to closely follow a group of men before they took up cycling, then follow them closely in the short and long term to see whether there were any changes to their sexual or urinary function. It will not be based on blood flow, it won’t be based on pressure mapping6; it’s going to be based on diseases and who’s healthy and who is not healthy. A similar German study — one that’s still cited by bike fit experts — noted a 50 percent increase in reported cases of erectile dysfunction amongst cyclists versus guys who didn’t ride. Their results showed a similar range of blood flows, from next to nothing to more than 80%.

Then a professor at the Boston University School of Medicine, where he headed the Institute for Sexual Medicine, he notably commented:

Some evidence suggests than men should consider avoiding cycling during episodes of prostatitis (inflammation) or chronic pelvic pain syndrome. We then discussed certain cycle practices he can modify to allow him to be able to cycle as much as he’d like without the symptoms, and these modified practices have worked well. The researchers had about 5,300 male cyclists complete questionnaires that asked how many hours per week they rode and whether, within the past five years, they had experienced symptoms of ED, or been diagnosed with infertility.

A 2020 observational study in the Journal of Men's Health found that cycling did not pose a serious threat of ED or infertility.

Shopping Cart

Numbness in the genital area was reported by 61% of the cyclists, and 19% of the cyclists who rode their bikes more than 250 miles per week complained of erectile dysfunction. Cyclists were also asked a range of questions including about their choice of bike, saddle, saddle angle and whether they wore padded shorts. Conservative measures such as altering the seat position, increasing the width of the saddle, increasing the saddle cushioning, using cut-away designs to reduce perineal pressure, and elevating from the saddle during prolonged rides all seem like prudent measures to avoid cycling-induced ED.

A fall on the bicycle frame may result in squeezing and injury to the bulbar part of the urethra between the frame and the pubic bone. This risk is likely affected by the design of the saddle, fit of the bike, riding position, ride duration and a host of other factors. Men who were having sexual problems may be less likely to participate in a survey, especially if they knew what it was about. Before you start freaking out, it's important to note that if you, say, go biking a few times a week, this probably won't apply to you.