Cycling and bedroom problems

Ask Matt Forsyth, MD, what piece of bicycle gear can improve your health and he'll answer "bike seat". An avid cyclist, Dr.Forsyth practices in Kaiser Permanete's urology department. He consults patients about sexual dysfunction every day. "Some dysfunction could be linked to cycling" He says. Although not every cyclist will develop erectile dysfunction, current conservative studies estimate that 1 in 2 bicycle riders will develop sexual dysfunction. A study of more than 1,100 cyclists in Germany by Udo Englemann, MD, found a genital numbness frequency rate of 58-70 percent. Researchers compared this to 155 long-distance swimmers, who did not mention any genital numbness. Traditional bike seat design drastically reduces blood flow to sexual organs. A potential solution is to utilize an ergonomic bike seat. "The new cut-out seat is designed to not compress the arteries and nerves of the sex organs" explains Dr.Forsyth.

Potential cuase

In 1990, Irwin Goldstein, MD, published the first report of the possible link between bicycles and erection problems in the journal Urology. Dr.Goldstein feels that faulty seat design causes chronic compression of arteries, veins and nerves. This can lead to damage of the arteries feeding the sex organs in both men and women. Fewer studies have been done to create a strong statistical correlation between sexual dysfunction in women cyclists. But the male and female sensual network of arteries, veins and nerves is similar. "Decreased blood flow causes less engorgement and lubrication of the vagina and vulva during sexual arousal in women." says Dr.Forsyth.

Other Factors

Your seat might not be entirely to blame. Dr.Forsyth believes positioning on the bike and riding style play a major role in pudendal nerve and vascular compression syndromes. "Not all bodies are built the same. All of our legs and upper bodies are different lengths." Have you ever tried riding the bike of someone just a few inches taller than you? With just that slight difference in bike size, you can really feel the increased pressure on your crotch. If your bike is too long and you have to stretch far to reach the handlebars, you'll increase pressure on the groin. If you still experience numbness or discomfort after buying your new seat, "you should probably get fitted by an experienced cyclist at a bike shop" advises Dr. Forsyth.

There are risks, but it's not all bad

Bicycles have another design feature that could pose a risk to sexual organs. The tube between the seat and handle-bar posts (crossbar) can cause trauma in an accident. Many people may recall in their childhood striking a curb or stationary object that forced them to fall forward on this bar. This is another reason to make sure your bike fits properly prior to purchasing it. A good bike shop will ask you what your intended use is prior to sizing a bike for you. If you plan on just riding smooth roads, your bike frame can be a little taller than if you plan on riding on rugged terrain that may result in falling forward, or having to quickly set your foot down.

There are many other causes of sexual dysfunction. Including: high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, depression, obesity, alcohol, drug abuse, smoking, sex hormone problems and more. Exercise, including cycling, has been found to increase blood flow. "Cycling is still a great form of exercise, and people who regularly exercise are less likely to have the health problems associated with sexual dysfunction. It is important for us to notice signs our body may be giving us and dow whatever we can to correct the problem." says Dr.Forsyth.

Online Biking Community

In our facebook group, "Team BiSaddle" We have a wide variety of different bikers from all skill levels. It is a great place to discuss biking topics, share your own knowledge, and learn from others. If you are interested in joining, please click the button below: