Can Cycling Cause Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the worst fear of every man. Unfortunately, it is quite common in our time. Nearly 18 million Americans are struggling with erectile dysfunction in one form or another. There are many factors contributing to the development of this disease: poor nutrition, lack of sleep, stress. In this article, we will talk only about one cause of ED. This is cycling.
Why is cycling associated with the risk of erectile dysfunction?
The penis is attached to the pelvic bones between the scrotum and anus. Thus, any blow in the area between the anus and the scrotum can potentially injure the penis or urethra.
The main problem is associated with the bicycle saddle. Its narrow protruding nose squeezes the nerves and blood vessels in the pudendal canal and stops the flow of blood to the genitals.
Arteries in the penis can be pinched between the seat and the pelvic bone. At the same time, the mucous membrane of the artery is injured and causes atherosclerosis (inflammation and narrowing) of the arteries of the penis. The injury can also be caused by a sudden blow or chronic recurring minor injuries, after several weeks and months of long cycling. 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.
Thus, cycling causes erectile dysfunction as follows: during cycling, there is an increase in the compression of blood vessels and nerves in the crotch area. 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.
Why is cycling related to the risk of urethral stricture?
A long ride can cause numbness and tingling sensation in the penis and scrotum. 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).
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. Such strictures are usually short and have fibrosis of the surrounding urethral tissue.
What is the risk of erectile dysfunction when cycling?
The relationship between erectile dysfunction and cycling was first investigated in the United States. The survey involved 1709 men aged 40 to 70 years. A random sample included a lot of cyclists from amateurs to serious athletes. The main conclusion of this survey was that cycling for more than 3 hours a week increases the risk of developing impotence. Moreover, statistically, the risk of impotence is 25%, whereas the risk of disorders in the perineal region and lower urinary tract is 50 to 91%.
Thus, men who ride a bicycle for more than 3 hours a week have an increased risk of developing blockage of the arteries and long-term damage to the penis. In addition, any problems with the blood supply in the penis will affect the urethral blood supply.
When to see a doctor?
If you do not spend on a bicycle every day for several hours, then you most likely need this information. But keep in mind that if some symptoms appear after the cycling trips, you’d better not to ignore them. Urologists urge men to see a doctor if they notice at least one symptom from the list:
- numbness in the genital area;
- itching, burning and pain in the genital area when urinating or during sex;
- modification of the external genital organs;
- difficulty urinating or incontinence;
- problems with potency;
- discoloration of urine.
How to reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction?
If you make some changes, you can continue cycling without sacrificing privacy.
Make a few changes to reduce the risk of ED:
- Replace the narrow bicycle saddle with a wider with additional gasket. In addition, it is necessary to choose a more rectangular saddle to reduce pressure;
- Lower the steering wheel. Leaning forward raises the back of the body from the saddle and reduces the pressure on the crotch;
- Wear soft riding shorts for extra protection;
- Reduce the intensity and duration of training;
- Take regular breaks during long trips: walk a little or just stand;
- Mix workout. It is sometimes worth running, swimming or doing aerobics instead of cycling. You’d better use a cycle for short riding or lightweight training.
If you experience pain or numbness in the perineum, you’d better stop driving for a while. You should not give up cycling, just make a few changes in travel. 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.