Many have long wondered whether cycling can adversely affect a man’s sexual function. Squishing those delicate parts on a bike seat for an extended period of time must cause some damage, right? A new study published in the Journal of Urology finds that the activity does not negatively affect sexual health or urinary function.
Researchers from the Department of Urology, University of California-San Francisco, examined cyclists, runners and swimmers and determined that their sexual and urinary health was similar.
While previous studies have suggested cycling could negatively impact men’s sexual function, the new study say the benefits “far outweigh the risks,” reports BBC.
Over, 2,770 cyclists from Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, as well as 539 swimmers and 789 runners, participated in the survey. While sexual health and urinary function were comparable for all three groups, some cyclists were more likely to experience a narrowing of the urethra, known as a urethral stricture. This can restrict the flow of urine from the bladder and cause urinary tract inflammation or infection, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Researchers didn’t find a statistically significant difference among those who cycled often (three times per week with an average of 25 miles per day) and those who cycled for recreation.
Previous research that concluded cycling negatively affected erectile function was limited and didn’t include comparison groups, according to the study’s authors.
“Cycling provides tremendous cardiovascular benefits and is low impact on joints,” noted lead investigator Benjamin Breyer. “The health benefits enjoyed by cyclists who ride safely will far out weight health risks.”
The authors concluded, “Contrary to prior studies suggesting that cycling may cause ED, our study shows that cyclists have no worse erectile function than non-cyclists…Further research is warranted to gain insight into these results, but this study suggests that cardiovascular benefits of exercise may outweigh any theoretical deterrent of cycling.”
The study did determine that cyclists had statistically significant higher odds of experiencing numbness in the genitals. This can be reduced if cyclists stand more than 20 percent of the time while performing the activity. Researchers hope to further study this phenomenon to determine if it indicates other future issues.