Is cycling connected to erectile dysfunction issues? Here's what study says

Doctors clarify that it is not a widespread issue and that cycling can be continued with confidence if necessary precautions are taken. Photo: iStock/Pavel1964

Cycling is a sport loved by both the young and the old. It helps improve heart health, increase muscle strength and flexibility, strengthen bones, and burn body fat. However, a study conducted by Wrocław Medical University in Poland warns that excessive cycling may lead to erectile dysfunction in men. At the same time, doctors clarify that this is not a widespread issue and that cycling can be continued with confidence if necessary precautions are taken.

What is erectile dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is the inability of the male sex organ to achieve an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. Some research suggests that prolonged sitting on the bicycle seat causes erectile dysfunction. The pressure from the seat on the perineum, the area between the genitals and the anus, can damage nerves and slow blood flow to the area. Health experts say this can cause numbness in the penis and lead to erectile dysfunction. Research from Wrocław Medical University suggests that male cyclists should stand up frequently while cycling to prevent erectile dysfunction.

Standing up every ten minutes reduces pressure on sexual organs and ensures air circulation in the body area, the study says. Poor riding technique and an ill-fitting bicycle seat can also cause problems, according to researchers. The Harvard Special Health Report supports these findings, stating that men who cycle for more than three hours a week are at higher risk.

How to take precautions?
Doctors emphasize that there's no need to immediately stop cycling upon learning this information. Taking necessary precautions, such as standing up frequently and ensuring a wide enough seat, is sufficient. Instead of a hard seat, a slightly softer seat is recommended. A gel-filled seat cover can also provide comfort. A study by European Urology showed that narrow bicycle seats reduce oxygen delivery to the penis by 82.4%, and V-shaped seats by 72.4%. The height of the bicycle handlebar is also crucial. A study in the Journal of Urology found that when the handlebar height is the same as or higher than the seat, the risk of erectile dysfunction is higher. It is ideal for the handlebar height to be lower than the seat. Apart from cycling, factors such as diabetes, heart disease, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, obesity, prostate surgery, cancer treatment, depression, stress, and anxiety can also contribute to erectile dysfunction.

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