Riding a bicycle won’t give you erectile dysfunction. In fact, lower body cardio can help prevent it. But a bike injury can cause numbness and over time, even erectile dysfunction, according to a new study published in the journal Urology. 4,000 genital injuries occur each year in the U.S. due to bicycling. Some believe that the skinny part of the seat is to blame.
Most of a rider’s weight should settle upon the bones we sit on, known in medical terminology as the ischiatic tuberosities. But some physicians worry that pressure put on the perineum—the area between the testicles and the anus, can cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves leading to the penis. This could in turn cause a diminishment of blood flow, which contributes to ED. When compressed, the erectile tissue within the penis may become scarred and less elastic, contributing to a loss of functionality.
Compression of the perineum can put pressure on the main nerve and artery, known as the pudendal nerve and the pudendal artery, leading to the penis. This may cause a lack of blood flow and numbness, which can contribute to ED. Unfortunately, this study did not investigate specific positioning or traits of bike riding that contribute to sexual dysfunction.
The most important thing is to make sure you have a comfortable seat. One that isn’t wide enough is more likely to cause problems. Make sure in the bike shop that you try different seats until you find the one that is the most comfortable for you. If you notice any numbness after your ride, you are not using the proper seat. If the skinny, front part is giving you problems, select a seat without a nose. Changing the position of the seat, the handlebars or the pedals to fit your particular body style and shape may be necessary. Seek out a professional shop which will know how to fit your bike to your body.
Cyclists do not experience ED at a higher rate than others, according to a body of research. You don’t have to give up bike riding to prevent ED, just make sure your bike is adjusted properly to fit your body.