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Does Bicycling Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Updated on October 7, 2009

Erectile Dysfunction and Bike Riding

There's no doubt that bicycling is enjoyed as healthy exercise for many people.  But, men can experience erectile dysfunction an unwelcome side effect from bicycle seats.  Although, it is true, that bicycling benefits cardiovascular functions and burns calories, but a bicycle saddle seat can squeeze arteries and vital nerves in the penis area.

Most of a male's weight is placed on the area between the scrotum and the anus. The pressure from sitting on a narrow saddle seat for long periods of time can damage the arteries and nerves, which can result in numbness, pain, or erectile dysfunction.

The earliest warning sign that damage has been done is a feeling of numbness or tingling sensation in a man's scrotum. Studies found that men who cycle more than three hours a week were at the highest risk.

Bicycle saddle manufacturers developed a seat to replace the traditional saddle seat with a 'no-nose' seat. This seat redistributes the weight from the scrotum area to the bones of the buttocks. However, cyclists propose the nose seat provides them more power and control when leaning forward, as in the racing position. Some doctors believe erectile dysfunction, nerve, and artery pressure cannot be eliminated for competitive riders while they are seated in the racing position.

What you can do:

Before buying a bicycle, be sure it is appropriate for your body build. Seat and handlebar heights, and seat position are important. Changing the angle of the seat to be more parallel to the ground, or slightly forward, can help alleviate pressure on the arteries and nerves in the scrotum area. Wider seats can also be beneficial to reduce pressure and redistribute weight.

Changing riding positions and types of bike saddles:

There are, also, bike saddles that feature a groove down the middle, or holes in the center of the seat. This is supposed to alleviate pressure, but can actually cause increased problems. Some bikers report the grooved saddles feel better, but can increase pressure on either side of the groove. Traditional bike saddles require men to sit on the penile area, and this creates pressure in the scrotum area.  Decreasing the pressure from the artery and nerves is the key to eliminate damage.  Transferring weight distribution to the sides of the scrotum can help to alleviate compression of the artery and nerves.  Sitting farther back on a wide seat is the best you can do.

The relationship between bike riding and erectile dysfunction was not noticed until 1997. It was then that a former executive editor of Bicycling magazine reported his own erectile difficulties after just a year of high-mileage cycling activities.

Cyclists have been reporting numbness in their groins for over 100 years!  It was only after an article in the Bicycling magazine about erectile problems to the public's attention, that research began looking for solutions.  Researchers have verified the relationship between erectile dysfunction and bike riding.

Despite research reports and findings, some cycling enthusiasts argue that exercise outweigh the dangers of erectile dysfunction. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, reported that not every bicyclist could be expected to suffer from erectile dysfunction, any more than every smoker could be expected to get lung cancer.

Definitely, exercise is beneficial, but adequate research and evidence indicates effective strategies exist and are available to eliminate and reduce the harmful effects of bike saddles.

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    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      9 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Great informative hub on erectile dysfunction. Thanks for sharing. creativeone59

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