a group of men cycling

Cycling has been a widely known form of cardiovascular exercise as well as being an eco-friendly form of transportation. In addition to these well-known benefits, cycling has also been shown to help with conditions such as hypertension, obesity, and coronary artery disease. On the other hand, certain studies have associated cycling with genital numbness, erectile dysfunction, infertility, and lower urinary tract symptoms. Due to a number of issues within the studies making these claims, counter studies were organized to evaluate the impact of cycling on erectile dysfunction and lower urinary tract symptoms in generally healthy men. 

Cycling’s Effect on Urologic Health 

A study conducted in March of 2018 surveyed 3,932 male athletes who were either cyclists, runners, or swimmers. Ultimately, the study concluded that while cycling had no worse urologic health problems than swimmers or runners, they were more prone to urethral stricture, a process in which scarring narrows the tube that carries urine from your body. This 2018 study also found that increasing the standing time while cycling, and increasing the handlebar height helped lower the chances of genital numbness. 

Although genital numbness is not associated with increased erectile dysfunction, there are certain steps you can take to lessen your chances of developing numbness from cycling. If you are an avid cyclist, it is recommended that you take your bike to get professionally fitted. This will not only help you avoid genital numbness and other genitourinary issues but will ultimately help ensure an all-around safer ride. When shopping for a bicycle, it is also recommended that you pay attention to the saddle of the bike. A narrow saddle with a long nose is more likely to increase chances of urethral stricture, so we recommend choosing a wide, comfortable seat. Ultimately, choosing a modified, more comfortable saddle has been shown to decrease traumatic pressures that narrow seats cause. 

The general consensus is that the health benefits of cycling far outweigh the potential determinants. If you are experiencing numbness or discomfort while riding, making adjustments to the way you ride (spending more time standing over the saddle) or to the bike itself can improve blood flow, allowing for a more comfortable ride. In short, there is very little evidence to support the claim that cycling causes worsened sexual function. Research has shown that there is no significant correlation between bike riding and any form of sexual dysfunction, especially in recreational cyclists. Cycling for exercise or as a hobby can increase muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness, and has no proven negative effect on lower urinary tract symptoms or erectile dysfunction. 

Make an Appointment

Alliance Urology Specialists is home to an expert team of urologists that are committed to providing comprehensive care to adults with urologic disorders and other conditions that may affect sexual health. We are also here to answer questions about any activity or lifestyle that you think may be affecting your urologic health. If you have questions or concerns about a urologic condition call our office at (336) 274-1114 to make an appointment.