Riding a bike does NOT damage sexual or urinary functions, study says

January 13, 2018  15:12

Male cyclists can confidently gear up and mount their bikes without the worry of causing damage to their sexual health, according to experts.

A new study has revealed that riding a bike does not damage men's reproductive parts, easing previous concerns that the sport can cause erectile dysfunction and urinary infections.

The research showed that cyclists have similar sexual and urinary health as swimmers and runners and those who are considered high-intensity cyclists actually have better erectile function.

Researchers hope that the findings will encourage cyclists to get back to the sport that provides cardiovascular benefits which they believe outweigh any risk.

Researchers from the University of California at San Francisco surveyed 4,000 cyclists, swimmer and runners in the largest study of its kind.

They used questionnaires including the Sexual Health Inventory for Men and International Prostate Symptom Score to understand the athletes' exercise routines as well as history of urinary tract infections, genital numbness and frequency of saddle sores, or discomfort from riding. 

Participants included 2,774 cyclists, 539 swimmers and 789 runners. 

Athletes were divided into two groups: high-intensity cyclists, meaning riding more than two years, more than three times per week and averaging 25 miles per day and low-intensity cyclists meaning the athletes fell below that criteria.

The swimmers and runners fell in the low-intensity category.

Participants were asked about the type of bike they ride, seat type, seat angle, handlebar height and how much time is spent standing instead of sitting on their bike while riding.

Researchers also explored what type of gear is worn during riding, including padded shorts. 

The findings published in the Journal of Urology found that cyclists' sexual and urinary health was comparable to swimmers' and runners'. 

While some cyclists were more prone to urethral strictures, the narrowing of the urethra caused by injury or infection, their reproductive health was barely impacted.  

Interestingly, high intensity cyclists were found to have overall better erectile function.

Those who stood more than 20 percent of the time significantly reduced the likelihood of genital numbness, while the type of bike had no negative impact on the rider's health. 

However, lowering the handlebar below the seat did cause cyclists to experience numbness and soreness while riding.

Lead author Dr Benjamin Breyer said: '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.' 

These results offer relief to cyclists after a 2012 study from the University of California at Los Angeles suggested that the sport caused hormonal imbalances that could affect fertility.

Another study showed that prolonged pressure on the genitals from riding caused trauma that can affect fertility.

However the researchers of this study discredited previous ones citing the sample sizes were very small.

'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,' Dr Breyer said. 

He added that future studies will look more closely at those who reported numbness to determine if it is a sign for future problems. 

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