In ‘health benefits of cycling greatly outweigh the risks’ news, a group of researchers who compared male cyclists with runners and swimmers have found that sexual and urinary health across all groups is much the same. Your saddle is not your enemy.
Participants included 2,774 cyclists, 539 swimmers, and 789 runners who completed validated questionnaires.
The questionnaires included the Sexual Health Inventory for Men, the International Prostate Symptom Score and the National Institutes of Health Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index. These were supplemented by questions about urinary tract infections, urethral strictures, genital numbness, and saddle sores.
The cyclists involved were also asked about the type of bike they rode, the clothing they wore, seat type, seat angle, handlebar height and how much time they spent riding in and out of the saddle.
Previous studies have suggested that cycling negatively affects erectile function as a result of prolonged perineal pressure and micro-trauma. However, the authors of the latest study said that previous research lacked comparison groups and was limited by small sample sizes.
As well as there being no great difference between the three sports, researchers also found no statistically significant difference between ‘high intensity cyclists’ – by which they meant those who had cycled for more than two years more than three times per week and averaging more than 25 miles per day – and recreational cyclists.
The only bad news was that after adjusting for age, cyclists were found to have significantly higher odds of ‘perineal numbness’ compared to non-cyclists – particularly where handlebar height was lower than saddle height.
Lead investigator Benjamin Breyer, of the Department of Urology at the University of California-San Francisco, said: "We're looking more closely at those who reported numbness to see if this is a predictor for future problems."