We are all aware of the health benefits associated with cycling – burning calories, improved cardiovascular fitness, etc. But what about the negative ramifications of riding a bike? Have you ever thought of those?
Men – did you know riding a bicycle can actually be harmful for your health? It’s true; riding a bike can actually lower testosterone levels and cause erectile dysfunction.
Where’s the Proof?
A recent study conducted by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found cyclists have lower testosterone levels than their stationary counterparts. Additionally, the Massachusetts Male Aging Study found even young men can lose their ability to achieve an erection.
Why Does This Happen?
There are several reasons why cycling is harmful for a man’s health. Elements like tight fitting shorts and excessive jostling could be factors. But most notable is the restricted blood flow.
Restricted blood flow affects both testosterone levels and the risk of ED. The less blood a man has flowing through his system, the less hormones he produces. Likewise, compressed arteries can affect erections (learn more about erectile dysfunction here).
Sitting on a traditional bike saddle causes pressure on the perineum – the area between a man’s scrotum and anus. This pressure can damage nerves and restrict blood flow.
Who is at Risk?
If you are a recreational cyclist (you travel less than 3,000 miles per year), you’re probably ok. Doctors have found the risk to be greatest for men who ride their bikes for more than three hours per week.
The first indicators of trouble are numbness, tingling, and pain in the groin area.
What Can Be Done?
First, men need to put this condition in perspective.
Yes, cycling increases the risk of low testosterone and erectile dysfunction. However, heart disease and obesity also up the odds. If you decide to trade your bike for an enjoyable sex life, you could be facing the same problems again, sooner rather than later. If you climb off your bike, your health will surely start to suffer – and then you are right back where you started!
Second, there are a few changes you can make regarding your equipment and clothing. Before you retire from cycling, give these a try.
- Try sitting upright. When you lean over your handlebars, the pressure your saddle exerts on the perineum is at its highest. Sitting up straight will relieve some of that pressure.
- Try replacing your saddle with a no-nose seat.
- Serious cyclists say they need the nose of their saddle, so there are a few alternatives. Find a wider seat with a central cut-out.
- Re-angle your current saddle. Make sure it is parallel to the ground or position yourself slightly forward. This will also help relieve some pressure.
- Buy shorts with chamois. However, don’t get too much padding in your britches. The more padding you have, the more friction there will be. Also, gel packs might feel good at first, but they hold heat (a bad thing!).
- Don’t panic. Even if you do experience erectile dysfunction, the condition probably won’t last long; it’s usually temporary and reversible.
If you’ve been experiencing erectile dysfunction and you think your life as a cyclist might be to blame, talk to your doctor. See if there is anything else you can do to restore your enjoyable sex life without sacrificing your bike.