Biking and ED?

The possible connection between bicycle riding and erectile dysfunction (ED) has been hotly debated.  Like all things in life, it seems that moderation is the most important consideration.

According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC), “Erectile dysfunction, sometimes called ‘impotence,’ is the repeated inability to get or keep an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse.”  As we all know, there may be many causes, including damage to nerves, arteries, muscles, and the tissues involved in getting and keeping an erection.  The vast majority of ED, however, is caused by chronic alcoholism, kidney and vascular disease, diabetes, or a neurological disorder.

So how can bicycling lead to erectile dysfunction? Prolonged pressure on the tissues of the perineum (the area of the groin between the penis and anus) can damage blood vessels and nerves responsible for an erection, and spending excessive amounts of time in the same position on the saddle may cause temporary erectile dysfunction. This damage may become permanent if the tissues are continually damaged and not allowed to recover.

The good news is that nearly every cyclist who experiences erectile dysfunction or impotence will have symptoms before the problem becomes serious. Reduced blood flow to the perineum causes pain, numbness, or tingling in the perineum long before men develop ED.

Proper fit of the bike to your own physiology, especially the saddle, goes a long way to preventing any damage to your “plumbing.”  So if you have no symptoms, then enjoy your riding, but listen to your body for signs of trouble.


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