Can Cycling Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Man resting on handlebars of bikes while biking through the forest

We live in an area that lends itself to outdoor activities, and cycling is undoubtedly one of the most popular. However, as anyone who rides a bicycle knows, the saddle puts significant pressure on the perineum, the space between the scrotum and the anus. This can often cause numbness in the area. With the proliferation of home cycling equipment, like Peloton, throughout the pandemic, many more people are experiencing the possible issues associated with this.

The Problem

Ultimately, the problem with bicycle saddles is their shape. This is an area that does not typically receive much pressure as the buttocks, with plenty of padding, are usually what take the brunt of our daily sitting and the pressure that goes along with it.

The perineum has nerve endings and blood vessels that supply the area with both sensation and oxygen-rich blood. When too much pressure is placed on these structures, the numbness occurs. Since erectile function is based both on blood flow and proper nerve function, the bike seat creates a double whammy that, if experienced occasionally, will likely do no harm but can start to cause significant problems, including erectile dysfunction over the longer term.

What Can Be Done?

On the one hand, we know how much cyclists enjoy their activity. It can even be their way to commute to work. On the other hand, it could cause significant problems. However, we certainly don’t want our patients to stop cycling. Instead, it’s worth looking into options that may take pressure off the perineum. For example, modern bicycle seats include a gap where the perineum otherwise touches the saddle. This can, of course, alleviate pressure from the area. There are also no-nose seats that shift the pressure to the buttocks. Lastly, specially made padded seats can be beneficial in relieving pressure in the area.

It’s also worth understanding that even experienced cyclists may not have perfect form, which should be checked periodically. Leaning too far forward or sitting too straight up can be problematic. A certified, knowledgeable professional should correct posture and form. In the meantime, if you do experience numbness and numbness in the perineum, don’t be worried that you have permanently injured structures in the area. This is very unlikely to be the case. Instead, take that as your cue to find modifications to continue enjoying your biking.

The Bottom Line

Be mindful that bicycle seats could cause compromised erectile function, at least in the short term. However, it is far more likely that a systemic blood flow issue is to blame. This is a more significant concern as we age, and our cardiovascular system is not as efficient as it once was. You should see a qualified men’s health urologist like Dr. Natale at the earliest stages of ED to see how you can treat it and maintain the sex life that you want. Click here to schedule a consult with Dr. Natale.

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