Urology: does cycling really make men impotent?

New study clears up myths about cycling

Cycling is very popular in Germany. But media rumors have been around for a long time that frequent cycling can restrict male sexual function. In a recent study, male cyclists were tested for urinary and sexual function in a large multinational sample to clear up the rumors. Men who like cycling a lot can breathe easy. The study shows that cycling does not pose an increased risk of sexual dysfunction.

Numerous previous reports have suggested that cycling may cause microtrauma due to continued pressure on the perineum, which could have adverse effects on sexual health or urinary tract health. This has been invalidated by a new study by the “University of California”. The study is considered to be the largest of its kind to date. 2,774 cyclists, 539 swimmers and 789 runners from different countries were involved in the study. Research also considered bike intensity, bike and saddle configuration, and even road conditions. The results were published in the specialist journal "The Journal of Urology".

Different groups of intensity

The cyclists were divided into two groups. One group consisted of people who cycled regularly at low intensity. The other group comprised people who cycled a high intensity on average over 40 kilometers a day. A control group consisted of swimmers and runners. By comparing the different groups, the researchers gained some interesting insights. Sexual and urinal health was comparable in all participants, although some cyclists had a higher rate of urethral narrowing.

Low handlebar height can cause genital numbness

Regarding the surface of bicycles and roads, the researchers found that they had no negative effects on cyclists. However, there may be numbness in the genital area if the handlebar height is lower than the saddle height. However, if athletes spend more than 20 percent of their time cycling, the likelihood of genital deafness is significantly reduced.

Health benefits predominate

The evaluation of the survey suggests that cyclists have no worse sexual function than swimmers or runners. In terms of urinary tract health, too, the researchers found only an increased susceptibility to urethral stricture. Otherwise there were no health concerns.

"We believe the results will be encouraging for cyclists," study director Benjamin Breyer from the Department of Urology at the University of California said in a press release on the current study.

Cycling offers enormous cardiovascular benefits and has little impact on the joints. "We believe that the health benefits of cycling will far outweigh the health risks," said Breyer. Future research would need to look more closely at those who reported deafness to see if this could be a predictor of future problems. (fp)

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