Health & Wellbeing

On ya bike: Major study says cycling doesn't raise risk of sexual or urinary problems in men

On ya bike: Major study says c...
The largest study of its kind has found that men have nothing to fear in terms of sexual or urinary dysfunction resulting from cycling
The largest study of its kind has found that men have nothing to fear in terms of sexual or urinary dysfunction resulting from cycling
View 1 Image
The largest study of its kind has found that men have nothing to fear in terms of sexual or urinary dysfunction resulting from cycling
The largest study of its kind has found that men have nothing to fear in terms of sexual or urinary dysfunction resulting from cycling

In recent years, there have been enough reports claiming that cycling can have a negative impact on sperm quality and erectile function. So much so, that many men with hopes of one day starting a family may have thought twice before donning the Lycra and hitting the road. But a new report indicates it's safe for men to get in the saddle, as cycling doesn't pose an increased risk of sexual or urinary dysfunction.

Numerous studies have given rise to the belief that cycling can have detrimental effects on sexual or urinary health due to prolonged pressure on the perineum and micro-trauma. But the researchers involved in this latest study say that previous findings were the result of poor study methods. Namely, they failed to use validated measures or comparison groups and had limited sample sizes.

In contrast, this new study is claimed to be the largest of its kind, involving 2,774 cyclists, 539 swimmers, and 789 runners from various countries. The participants completed a number of validated questionnaires and also answered questions about urinary tract infections (UTIs), urethral strictures, genital numbness, and saddle sores. The research also took into account cycling intensity, bicycle and saddle configuration, and even road conditions.

The cyclists were divided into two groups – a low intensity group who cycled on a regular basis, and a high intensity group who had cycled three times per week, averaging 25 miles (40 km) per day, for at least two years. The non-cyclist group consisted of those that didn't cycle on a regular basis, but who swim or run.

In comparing the different groups, the researchers made some interesting findings. Sexual and urinary health were comparable across all participants, although some cyclists had a higher rate of urethral strictures. Perhaps most surprising for those that had read previous studies was the cyclists in the high intensity group had overall better erectile dysfunction scores than those in the low intensity group. Less surprising was the finding that standing for more than 20 percent of the time while riding significantly reduced the chances of genital numbness.

In terms of the bicycle and road surface, the researchers found that neither had a negative impact on cyclists, but riding with a handlebar height lower than the saddle height did increase the chances of genital numbness and saddle sores.

"This is the largest comparative study to date, exploring the associations of cycling, bike and road characteristics with sexual and urinary function using validated questionnaires," says lead investigator Benjamin Breyer, MD, MAS, of the Department of Urology, University of California–San Francisco. "We believe the results will be encouraging for cyclists. Cycling provides tremendous cardiovascular benefits and is low impact on joints. We believe the health benefits enjoyed by cyclists who ride safely will far outweigh health risks."

The study will be published in the March 2018 edition of The Journal of Urology.

Source: Elselvier

Brian M
Might have been interesting to have had a control group of non sports men as well i.e. Still fit but not doing lots of running and swimming.
Although mentioned as a worry, fertility doesn't seem to have been measured which seems a pity considering the concerns, unless the authors are equating sexual heath with fertility (they are not technically the same!).
Jay Gatto
Jon C
Misleading at best, and likely to be sponsored (see link to original study, below)...
"Cardiovascular benefits of recreational or intense cycling outweigh the risks of negatively impacting sexual or urinary health" - this is true - for overall health, cycle.
"Standing more than 20% of the time while cycling significantly reduced the odds of genital numbness" - a self destructive study.
As has been explained to me by two leading urologists, one standing next to a radiology machine in Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge (University):
Conventional saddle noses constrict pudendal arteries, and can quickly crush an artery, since they are sticky internally, they can remain so. Any pressure in these areas increase groin numbness, also the pudendal nerve (below glutes) which wider saddles tend to pressurise. Lowered blood-flow in the groin area, or ANY numbness is bad. Fact.
We have seen the results of increasing blood-flow to the groin area DURING cycling (with a noseless saddle), and it's very positive...
Adrian Pineda
Tell this to all the serious cyclists whose junk doesn't work anymore.
How about my prostate? I had a higher that 4 PSA reading when last tested. I quit biking for a week and my PSA was down afterwards.
How about an article on this?
It appears I am the only one noticing this, as my doctor was baffled by it, but suggested I not bike for a week whenever I am to be tested again.