Let’s get one thing straight – cycling regularly does not explicitly cause erectile dysfunction. It may surprise you as that’s not what your family members, friends, and well-wishers have been telling you about cycling erectile dysfunction all along.
This is according to a study published in the Journal of Men’s Health (July 2014) after researchers surveyed over 5,282 male cyclists of 16 to 88 years of age.
The study did not find any direct link between cycling and erectile dysfunction (ED) or male impotence for that matter.
Sure, that seems like good news to cyclists, but that doesn’t mean that you’re fully immune from problems in your groin.
Regular cyclists are prone to nerve damage and numbness in the groin area and may also suffer from issues like saddle sores, says Andy Pruitt, founder of the University of Colorado Sports Medicine and Performance Center.
Pruitt says, “Men have gotten better about understanding the importance of saddle selection and fit, But there’s still some work to do to make sure everyone gets the message about what is acceptable discomfort and what is not.”
Cycling for more than three hours can cause numbness, pain, and erectile problems
Spending too many hours riding bicycles can exert pressure on the artery and vital nerves that lead to the penis. If this keeps going on for a long time, the consequences are numbness, pain, and erectile dysfunction.
During cycling, a significant percentage of man’s weight is put on his perineum, which is the area between the scrotum and the anus. This is the spot where the arteries and nerves leading to the penis meet.
According to Dr. Li Man Kay, Urologist and Kidney Transplant Surgeon at Mount Elizabeth, cyclists sitting on the bicycle for more than 10 minutes will experience numbness at the penis. This is because the penile artery which supplies blood to the penis is being compressed.
“There are two penile arteries and they are situated at the base of the penis which is in between the testes. Blood supply can usually be restored if the arteries are released from the compression, which means lifting the buttock off the saddle from time to time. If the arteries are not healthy (some have atherosclerosis) then the blood supply will be affected even when not sitting in the saddle,” says Dr Li, who is an avid cyclist himself.
How much riding is not the issue but the time of lifting the buttock off the saddle should be every 10-15 minutes and whenever you feel the penis is numb.
Riding on narrow saddle seat for extended periods of time can put tremendous pressure on the perineum, which can injure the nerves and arteries, reports Dr. Irwin Goldstein, MD, director of San Diego Sexual Medicine.
This begs the question, how much riding does it take for a man to put him at this risk for Cycling Erectile Dysfunction? The Massachusetts Male Aging Study discovered the risk is highest among male cyclists, who ride over three hours a week.
Genital numbness is never a good thing
If you’re a cyclist, amateur or professional, if you experience genital numbness, it’s an indication that maybe you’re spending too much time on cycling. Dr. Goldstein says that numbness or tingling in the genital area is one of the earliest warning signs of erectile dysfunction.
Numbness occurs when nerves are compressed. When the nerves are compressed, the arteries feeding blood to the penis get compressed too.
It is true that the numbness may disappear within one or few hours, but if you keep ignoring it, then be prepared for long-term damage.
Genital numbness depends on the riders, says Pruitt. Some cyclists won’t experience any genital numbness and can ride on almost any saddle all day. The reason for them not being affected is because their veins and nerves are located in multiple layers of tissue.
For the rest of us, you need to be more careful. Keep in mind no amount of genital numbness is acceptable. Numbness of any kind or duration should not be tolerated, period.
Tips reduce your risks of cycling erectile dysfunction
If you’re a frequent rider, we aren’t telling you to quit your daily cycling routine to stay safe. A few modifications to your lifestyle can shield you from severe genital injuries and problems like erectile dysfunction or fertility troubles. Let’s go:
- Sit further back or move the saddle forward so the pressure is on your sitting bones (Ischial tuberosities) or have a saddle with a central groove that the base of the penis is not taking the compression.
- Reduce your overall cycling time, but increase your intensity. By intensity, we are telling to make your rides tougher and faster.
- Exercise in other ways besides cycling. Start off by running, swimming or a trip to the gym.
- Avoid cycling in rough terrain. Rough terrains put a lot of pressure on the perineum and groin.
- Lose excess weight. The more you weigh, the more pressure you will put on your body during cycling.
- If you feel any numbness or pain during cycling for a long time, change your riding position. Also take breaks regularly.
- Always use a soft saddle. Try out various saddles and find out what works best for you. Try using them from different angles, and choose saddles that come with plenty of padding and a soft center. Stay away from narrow and firm saddles.
- Wear padded cycling shorts. Some padded cycling shorts include padding or gel inserts that help cushion your thighs and groin.
Are these tips helpful? Share them with your cycling kakis so they’ll know how to protect their man parts.