an illustrated diagram highlighting the sacral nerve and how it gets damaged from cycling

Erectile Dysfunction
and Cycling

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) and Peyronie's Disease caused by cycling is a relatively common issue that affects many cyclists. Prolonged or endurance cycling, where the cycle seat constantly rubs against the genital area and exerts pressure on the perineum (the region between the genitals and anus), can lead to nerve damage and compression of arteries in the penis.

This compression reduces the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the penis, resulting in tingling or a loss of sensation in the penis, eventually leading to ED or PD. 

 

 

 

If you have developed ED or PD and think it is a result of cycling, we have a number of therapies that can help you overcome this.

 

 

 

an illustration showing how shockwave therapy can help treat men's sexual health issues

Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction Caused by Cycling

If numbness in the penile area persists despite modifying cycling habits and taking breaks, consulting a specialist is recommended. Compressed arteries in the penis can often be restored through a combination of treatments, including shockwave therapy.

Other non-invasive treatments such as Extracorporeal MagnetoTransduction Therapy (EMTT) and NanoVi have also proven effective in improving blood flow in penile tissues, enhancing endothelial function, and supporting the body's healing processes. When used in conjunction with shockwave therapy, these treatments can yield significant improvements in erectile function.

EMTT employs a strong magnetic field in the vicinity of endothelial cells, while NanoVi technology aids in repairing DNA and cell damage without the use of harmful chemicals.

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a closeup of a bicycle seat with the ocean in the background

Cycle Saddle Shape & Erectile Dysfunction

The risk of developing ED due to cycling is typically higher among men who cycle for more than three hours a week. However, there are steps that cyclists can take to mitigate this risk. Recent research has highlighted two key areas to consider: saddle shape and handlebar height.

Research published in the journal European Urology revealed that narrow cycle seats, especially those with a V-shape in the saddle nose, can decrease oxygen supply to the penis by up to 82.4%. To address this issue, it is recommended to opt for a wider, well-padded saddle that can absorb the impact of the ride.

Additionally, gel-filled seats can provide added comfort. Another study in Applied Ergonomics suggests choosing a saddle with a nose length no longer than 6 cm.

 

 

 

 

a solemn man sitting on the edge of a bed with a woman in bed behind him

Cycle Handlebar Height & Erectile Dysfunction

A study in The Journal of Urology found that having handlebars parallel with or higher than the saddle height increases the risk of ED compared to handlebars set lower than the saddle.

Therefore, cyclists are advised to lower their handlebars, which will slightly shift their body forward and alleviate pressure on the perineum. 

 

 

 a close-up of the handlebars of a bicycle

Other Strategies to Reduce Erectile Dysfunction Caused by Cycling

In a noteworthy study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers conducted a five-year investigation to examine the association between Erectile Dysfunction and Asthma. The findings indicated that asthma could indeed be a contributing factor to the development of ED, and the risk of ED was shown to increase with the severity of asthma symptoms.

Comparing a control group, it was observed that nearly twice as many men with asthma experienced ED. These results emphasize the importance of recognizing the potential link between asthma and sexual health issues, particularly ED, and highlight the need for proactive measures in managing both conditions simultaneously. A study in The International Journal of Clinical Practice came to a similar conclusion. 

 

Exercise Cycle Use & Erectile Dysfunction

During the COVID-19 lockdowns, the use of exercise cycles at home became increasingly popular, coinciding with a rise in reported cases of ED. If you begin to experience numbness in the penile area, it's wise to reduce the intensity of your training and diversify your exercise routine.

Including activities like jogging, swimming, and other forms of aerobic exercise can help prevent the overuse of cycling. 

a group of people on exercise bikes

 

 

a closeup of a motorcycles tires driving along a road

Motorcycle Riding & Erectile Dysfunction

Many of the same issues and recommendations discussed above apply to motorcycle riding, as it can also subject the perineal area to pressure and vibration. 

Can Cycling Cause Permanent ED?

While excessive cycling can lead to difficulties in achieving an erection, it typically does not induce permanent ED. ED caused by cycling is usually a temporary problem. However, in rare cases, severe nerve damage and arterial constriction can persist even after discontinuing cycling or making adjustments to the cycle seat and handlebar height.

In such instances, seeking specialist ED therapy may be necessary to fully address the issue and restore healthy erectile function.

 

 

 

 

Several clinical studies have explored the relationship between cycling and erectile dysfunction.

  • Observational Study on Saddle Design: This study by Dettori et al. explored the impact of using cutout saddles on cyclists and their association with ED. Strategies for Reducing the Impact of Cycling on the Perineum in Healthy Males: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.
  • Prevalence of Symptoms in Cyclists: This involves various studies documenting sexual dysfunction symptoms in male cyclists, including perineal numbness and ED. Read here. 
  • Pudendal Nerve and Artery Damage: Research in this area focuses on damage to the pudendal nerve and artery in cyclists and its potential link to ED. Read here. 
  • Cohort Study on Bicycle Characteristics: This prospective cohort study examined the relationship between bicycle characteristics and the occurrence of ED in cyclists participating in a long-distance event. You can access this study here. 

 

 

 

Erectile Dysfunction and Cycling FAQs

Does cycling affect erectile dysfunction (ED)?

Cycling can impact erectile function because the bicycle seat may exert pressure on the perineum – the region between the genitals and anus. This pressure can affect nerves and impede blood flow, potentially causing tingling, numbness, and in some cases, ED.

How do frequency of cycling and cycle design influence ED?

Frequent cycling, particularly with a poorly designed saddle or an improperly adjusted bike, can increase the risk of ED. Factors like the duration of cycling sessions, saddle shape, and handlebar height can influence the development of ED.

Can cycling cause permanent ED?

Excessive cycling may reduce blood flow to the penile tissues, leading to ED. While this condition can often be mitigated with changes in cycling habits, it is not typically considered permanent.

Is ED common among cyclists?

While ED can occur in men who cycle regularly, it is not a predominant cause of ED globally. Many cyclists maintain healthy erectile function despite frequent riding.

Can bike seats cause ED?

Certain types of bicycle seats, particularly narrow or V-shaped ones, can contribute to ED by decreasing oxygen supply to the penis. Over time, this can affect the ability to maintain firm erections.

Is cycling-induced ED reversible?

Yes, cycling-related ED is often reversible and can be addressed by modifying cycling habits or taking a break from cycling. However, if severe damage occurs to the nerves in the perineal region, medical treatments may be necessary to restore normal function.

How can I prevent ED if I cycle often?

To minimise the risk of developing ED, choose a bicycle with a wide, padded seat and ensure that the handlebars are positioned lower than the saddle. Avoid over-cycling and make adjustments to your bike fit to support your health.

Are oral medications for cycling-induced ED safe?

Oral medications may provide short-term relief for ED symptoms. However, long-term reliance on little blue pills is not recommended due to diminishing efficacy over time.

What treatments are available for cycling-induced ED?

Our clinic offers contemporary non-invasive treatments that are safe and free from adverse side effects. Our treatment regimen may include focused shockwave therapy, extracorporeal magnetotransduction therapy, NanoVi, and Tesla Chair therapy.

 

 

 

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