Cycling does not damage men's sexual or urinary functions

January 12, 2018, Elsevier
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

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. 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 is the largest comparative study to date, exploring the associations of cycling, bike and road characteristics with sexual and urinary function using validated questionnaires," explained 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 out weight health risks."

Some studies have suggested that cycling negatively affects erectile function. The hypothesis was that this negative impact is caused by the prolonged perineal pressure and micro-trauma during cycling. However, these studies lacked the use of validated measures or comparison groups, and were limited by small sample sizes.

In this multinational study a cross-section of three athletic groups – cyclists, swimmers, and runners – was surveyed using Facebook ads and outreach to sporting clubs for athletes. Participants included 2,774 cyclists, 539 swimmers, and 789 runners. Participants completed validated questionnaires, including the Sexual Health Inventory for Men (SHIM), International Prostate Symptom Score (I-PSS), and National Institutes of Health Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index (NIH-CPSI), as well as questions about (UTIs), urethral strictures, genital numbness, and saddle sores.

In addition to the comparisons between similar athletic activities with and without perineal pressure, the researchers examined how cycling intensity, bicycle configuration, and even road conditions might impact sexual and urinary functions. Cyclists were asked about their bike type, saddle type, saddle angle, 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. Cyclists were divided into a high intensity group (cycling more than two years more than three times per week, and averaging more than 25 miles per day) and a low intensity group meeting none of these criteria. Non-cyclists were defined as those who swim and/or run but do not cycle on a regular basis.

In general, when compared to swimmers and runners, cyclists' sexual and urinary health was comparable, although some cyclists were more prone to urethral strictures. Interestingly, high intensity cyclists had overall better erectile function scores than low intensity cyclists. Neither bicycle nor road characteristics appeared to have a on cyclists. Standing more than 20 percent of the time while significantly reduced the odds of genital numbness. Adjusting handlebar height lower than the saddle height did increase the likelihood of genital numbness and saddle sores.

"The comparison across athletes sampled in a similar way with validated instruments is what this study adds to the literature," said Dr. Breyer. "We're looking more closely at those who reported numbness to see if this is a predictor for future problems."

Explore further: Bike fanatics shouldn't worry about effects on sexual health

More information: Mohannad A. Awad et al. Cycling, and Male Sexual and Urinary Function: Results from a Large, Multinational, Cross-Sectional Study, The Journal of Urology (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.juro.2017.10.017

Related Stories

Bike fanatics shouldn't worry about effects on sexual health

May 15, 2017
(HealthDay)—The groin pain and numbness some serious bicyclists experience isn't harmful to their sexual or urinary health, two new studies suggest.

Handlebar level can affect sexual health of female cyclists

July 9, 2012
A new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine reveals that handlebar position is associated with changes in genital sensation in female cyclists.

Bicycle handlebar position affects female genital sensation

March 16, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Low handlebar positioning relative to the bicycle saddle is associated with increased perineal saddle pressure and decreased sensation in critical pelvic floor structures, according to research published online ...

Men aged 20-29 who swap car for bicycle for work commute have 'particularly high risk' of collisions, study finds

June 8, 2017
Switching from driving to a cycling commute helps Dublin city dwellers improve their physical health and mental wellbeing. However, the overall positive health benefits of cycling to the local population may mask some potential ...

Does cycling increase risk for erectile dysfunction, infertility, or prostate cancer?

July 7, 2014
Cycling is a popular activity that offers clear health benefits, but there is an ongoing controversy about whether men who ride have a higher risk of urogenital disorders such as erectile dysfunction, infertility, or prostate ...

Recommended for you

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.