Boy Stuff: Cycling, The Prostate And Erectile Dysfunction

Ten years later, more than two dozen published studies, including several by Goldstein, have confirmed the connection between cycling and sexual dysfunction. ” But after using the saddle for a few months, the 52-year-old began having trouble maintaining an erection. A Bicycling Magazine article warned of “the unseen danger” for male cyclists. The hypothesis was that this negative impact is caused by the prolonged perineal pressure and micro-trauma during cycling. These are summarized in Table 1. So if I'm looking at someone sitting on a saddle, be they male or female, you need to get good pressure on the two bones in your bum called the ischial tuberosities – they need a saddle that's an appropriate width.

Testing at Sommer’s lab showed that the modified saddles allowed blood flow up to about 70% of normal in an upright position, and 60% in a forward position. Researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health(NIOSH) evaluated 17 members of a bicycling police patrol unit in Cincinnati, Ohio. They simply think 'I'm middle-aged, I'm on a road bike, things are bound to hurt', and so they'll put up with knee pain, saddle pain, whatever. Arguments have been made for nerve compression, arterial insufficiency and ischemic neuropathy.

The 52-year-old Northern California cyclist with ED problems ultimately decided to try a noseless saddle. Perhaps the best advice is to make biking part of a balanced fitness program instead of relying on it exclusively. Compression of the perineum can lead to nerve damage, swelling, artery insufficiency (lack of blood flow through the vessel), and even occlusion (blockage) of blood vessels, which in turn can lead to temporary or permanent groin numbness, tingling sensations, decreased penile blood supply, erectile dysfunction (impotence), decreased orgasm sensitivity, and pain. But the researchers admitted their sample was small, that more research was needed, and that their findings did not necessarily mean there was a direct link between cycling and prostate cancer. In select cases, I even prescribe some medications to help circulation. But that needle, in the shape of the traditional bike saddle’s nose, is the problem, say medical researchers. Some are going all out for safety.

In this article, we will talk only about one cause of ED. Medical conditions are the biggest factor, but psychological factors can play a part too. The random sample is representative of a similar population of men and includes a variety of cyclists, such as recreational and occasional riders, stationary bikers, and serious sport cyclists. 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 the rider is sitting on a narrow bicycle saddle or its protruding nose, the compressive forces push the nerves and blood vessels within Alcock’s canal against the bony surface of the pelvic bone, transiently stopping blood flow to the genitals. It's a matter of individual suitability and trial and error, so we are not going to endorse any particular saddle type.

  • But a 2020 study by UK researchers offered a different perspective.
  • Solomon S, Cappa KG.
  • Read more about the benefits of cycling.
  • Between 50 and 91% of cyclists have experienced genital numbness of some kind while cycling.

Clinical Investigations

The injury can also be caused by a sudden blow or chronic recurring minor injuries, after several weeks and months of long cycling. Determining that width involves actually measuring, rather than just observing, says Dr. Impotence and its medical and psychosocial correlates: Non-cyclists may have had lower sexual health scores on the SHIM, but these were negligible differences. Participants were surveyed on sexual health, prostate symptoms, urinary tract infections, genital numbness, and saddle sores.

Bicycle saddles with a long nose also compress the bulbar urethra and after repetitive trauma to this area, can compromise urethral blood flow and increase chances for a stricture (urethral narrowing and slow urinary steam). But the next time someone tells you cycling causes erectile dysfunction, present them with this hard evidence to the contrary. 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: They concluded that the most important factor in protecting penile perfusion is not the extent of padding, but the width of the saddle, with sufficient support to the pelvic bones to avoid compression of the perineal soft tissue. Most racing saddles, however, are narrow, and this may have some effect on perineal symptoms for some riders. 6 Things Every Man Should Know About His Penis: The former is interesting, but without more detailed information on what the researchers mean by ‘seat type’ and ‘significant’ we can’t comment.

Cycling offers important health benefits and should be encouraged [letter].

Sex Talk

But there’s a lot that remains unknown. In the largest study on cyclists to date, researchers analyzed nearly 5,300 male riders to figure out whether there was a real connection between cycling and these conditions, and if so, whether the risks increased the more time men spent in the saddle. Alcock’s canal is where the nerves and arteries travel on their way to the penis.

Erectile Dysfunction (impotence)

Although all male riders have the same basic plumbing, differences in individual anatomy affect how the seats perform. Substantial evidence exists that localized blunt trauma to the penile artery can also injure the endothelium. Schrader said. The bike cops that Schrader studied were logging 25 hours a week on the bike and the women cyclists were riding 99 miles per week. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the worst fear of every man. How caloric restriction prevents negative effects of aging in cells, they can either be taken in forms of tincture or as tonics. Cycling surface and type of bike had no effect on scores, while men who'd never worn padded shorts were less likely to report genital numbness or saddle sores.

He says the authors have “no idea who's participating in the trial. A bilateral pudendal nerve block resulted in rapid analgesia and pain relief for 24 h. 5 key questions to help you develop a caregiving plan. Don’t tilt your seat upward, a position that increases pressure on the perineum. Goldstein sees flaws in the UCSF studies, which surveyed thousands of respondents contacted through Facebook and sports club Websites. He hadn’t cycled since he was a kid, and now, at age 26, he loved being on the move, racing through the streets of Wilmington, Delaware, to get wherever his boss sent him.

  • Another study found that riding a recumbent bike—which places the rider in a laid-back reclining position—did not cause the same dramatic (though temporary) drop in oxygen supply to the penis that riding a conventional bicycle did.
  • Since guys who pedal eight and a half hours a week — about 200 miles — are in the clear, recreational riders and commuters shouldn't need to worry.
  • The multinational study (which included Australia) compared three groups of male athletes – 2774 cyclists, 539 swimmers and 789 runners – who were surveyed using Facebook ads and outreach to sporting clubs for athletes.
  • Staying fit and healthy is important and cycling was an exercise he would definitely recommend, "but if people start complaining of any adverse symptoms they need to seek appropriate advice," Chung said.
  • The health benefits of cycling is burning calories and improving cardiovascular health and fitness.

Support Links

Although erectile dysfunction can go away if cyclists stop riding, it can also be permanent. There has been much research in the past few decades looking at the potential links between cycling and ED. It had never occurred to Ryan that bicycling could cause this kind of harm. In recent years, scientists have linked cycling with several male health problems, including erectile dysfunction, which they speculate is caused by the saddle decreasing blood flow to the penis. Impotence and bicycling: Sitting in the saddle should give you the same enveloping feeling you get when you sink into your Eames chair — the comfy lounge and ottoman, not his hard plastic designs.

Numerous case reports have been published of bicyclists with erectile difficulties and/or perineal nerve dysfunction that resolves with changes in cycling techniques, rest, or use of a softer saddle. At the same time, the mucous membrane of the artery is injured and causes atherosclerosis (inflammation and narrowing) of the arteries of the penis. It depends entirely on the fit of your seat. Bicycling can be learned at an early age and is accessible to people of all ages; it can be done year-round, indoors or outside. The survey asked questions about men's sexual and urinary function, and compared the results of cyclists with non-cyclists. Some people say that there is less erectile dysfunction in cyclists as they are physically fitter - which may be true. Guides, also, surgery (especially radical prostate and bladder surgery for cancer) can injure nerves and arteries near the penis, causing ED. This includes cessation of cycling, changing saddles and making adjustments in technique and bike setup. But it also can't prove that cycling doesn't have any negative impact.

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Interest has focused on various bicycle saddle designs and their relationships to arterial perfusion and nerve conduction. A smaller but oft-cited 2020 study found that bicycling policemen were significantly less likely to get erections during their nighttime sleep than non-cyclists. Based on their findings, the authors recommend that cyclists opt for wider saddles without protruding front extensions, which have been shown to reduce penile blood flow, and tilt the front of the saddle downwards to reduce perineal pressure. While rare, this condition can result in chronic pain, numbness, and yup, you guessed it, sexual dysfunction. Therefore it seems sensible to use a saddle which aims to reduce pressure on the perineum. A 2020 observational study in the Journal of Men's Health found that cycling did not pose a serious threat of ED or infertility.


As time spent cycling increased, so did erection problems. As researchers focused on cycling-related erection impairment, they quickly realized that the problem was not cycling per se but the seats (saddles) beneath riders. The way you ride also affects the pressure on the perineum region. Get your butt on a bike four or more days a week. Acute trauma—falling on the crossbar, for example—can also contribute to the development of ED. It’s not a comment on experience, knowledge or attitudes. Standing more than 20 percent of the time while cycling significantly reduced the odds of genital numbness.

They were treated successfully with percutaneous arterial embolization.


60% on the saddle. Laumann EO, Paik A, Rosen RC. Sitting on a bicycle seat (sometimes called a saddle) puts pressure on the perineum. What are the best aphrodisiac foods you should try to improve your sex life? Further research needed?

If you do not spend on a bicycle every day for several hours, then you most likely need this information. However, given that factors such as physical health and mental wellbeing all have an effect on sexual function, if cyclists are fitter and happier, that may well lead to a happier sex life. 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).

It's good to hear cycling to work reduces your risk of dying. But that's not why I do it | Laura Laker

If biking is your “thing,” mix it up. Modifiable risk factors and erectile dysfunction: Does the type of saddle matter? Moderate cyclists were found to be less likely to have moderate or complete ED than men who do not cycle, whereas sport cyclists were more likely to have moderate or complete ED.