Some people claim that regular extended periods of bike riding may be an activity that can have negative consequences in the bedroom for men in the form of an increased risk of erectile dysfunction.
This is a strong statement that is hotly debated online and within medical journals. And, the exact answer and specifics seem to still be up in the air.
Below, we will try and shed some light on the debate including what some review studies have reported, the physical changes that could be pointed to if this is true, how to make better seat choices, and highlight how the positive cycling health benefits should also be weighed.
There is currently conflicting evidence on whether excessive cycling and sitting on a bike seat can actually increase the risk of ED development. Some studies say there is a connection, while others report no increased risk. And, many of these studies may have internal flaws or do not use a validated measure of ED.
One recent review study from 2021 looked into getting to the bottom of the matter by evaluating 6 studies that contained a total of 3,330 cyclists and 1,524 non-cyclists as controls. When comparing the ED risk in the cyclists versus the non-cyclists in a non-controlled manner, there was not a difference in the odds of ED. However, when the review controlled for age and certain medical conditions, the review reports a significantly higher odds ratio in the cyclists for developing ED (about 2X that of the non-cyclists).
So, it would be incorrect to conclude that there is a scientifically proven connection at this time. However, there may be something at play here and it also can’t be ruled out.
The hypothesized culprit here is really the bike seat.
When men sit on a bike seat, there is a lot of pressure on the perineum. This area contains lots of soft tissue that is integral to healthy penile function including vessels and nerves. The idea is that too much pressure over too long of a time on this area may damage nerves or reduce blood flow to the penile tissues, and may lead to issues like ED.
For long-distance cyclists, they may even experience the sensation of numbness, tingling, or pain in their nether regions for a few minutes, hours, or even days after an intense ride. These sorts of sensations occurring after cycling have been well documented, even as far back as the late 1800s.
The reduced blood flow to the penile tissues is thought to be worse when sitting on certain bicycle seat shapes. The seats with a long, skinny “nose” at the front of the seat are described as being the worse for these sorts of symptoms, and seats designed with a much wider, almost elongated rectangle shape may be the better option if the risk of ED is a concern for you.
As we mentioned above, you may want to avoid seats with a long, skinny “nose” portion, and opt for ones with a wider front that distribute the pressure of sitting more evenly onto your “sit bones” instead of the delicate perineum.
Another important choice for your overall comfort and potential sexual functionality is to go to a bike shop that you trust and ask for a professional bike fitting. This means that they will help you adjust all portions of your bicycle from the handlebars to the seat height and help make the most ergonomic sitting position possible for your body.
Something to note here is the overall positive impact that keeping a regular exercise program can have on your health (sexual health, or otherwise). Cardiovascular disease is one of the biggest killers, and its development and progression can potentially be improved through healthy diet and exercise choices, like regular bike riding.
If cycling is your favorite form of exercise, and giving it up means you will probably not be getting nearly as much movement in, take your gear into a bike shop and just try to get the most comfortable (and manhood safe) seat and adjustments. But, if you like jogging and swimming just as much, you experience regular numbness or pain from cycling, and you are experiencing some ED symptoms, you may want to play it safe and switch up your exercise routine.
We do not yet know if there is a direct connection between cycling and increased risk of ED. The current studies are conflicting, so this suspicion is not currently validated.
Some men experience tingling, numbness, or pain in the groin area after a long cycling session, which may signal low oxygenation or potential damage in the area. If men experience this, they should stop cycling for the day, let the sensation recover, and consider switching bike seats or getting a professional bike fitting at a shop.
The hypothesis is that the shape of the bike seat puts too much pressure on the perineum, which contains vessels and nerves, and may reduce blood flow to the reproductive organs. The seats with a narrow “nose” at the front of the seat are thought to be worse for blood flow than the wider seats which shift the pressure towards the rear. And, the longer you normally ride at a time may increase your risk of negative sensations in the area.
Cycling is still a great way to get in your allotted aerobic exercise, and can be great for your general health and wellness. If ED or penile function issues are a big concern for you, even though this connection is not currently confirmed, there may be safer ways to cycle and you don’t necessarily need to throw in the towel. If you do decide to skip out on cycling due to the potential (though unconfirmed) risk, be sure to replace the activity with other heart-healthy exercises like walking, swimming, or jogging.
ED happens to a lot of men, and it may not necessarily be related to your 6-hour Sunday cycling sessions or your narrow-nosed bike seat (although, you may want to switch that out…). ED can start occurring due to increased age, reduced nerve function or blood flow as a result of other medical conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, or even psychological reasons.
Regardless of why you are dealing with erectile dysfunction, you deserve to be evaluated by a medical professional to see if a treatment option can help you reduce the symptoms.
At Strut, we understand that having “that conversation” with a doctor can be intimidating or embarrassing. For that reason, we offer a safe and secure telemedicine platform where you can connect with U.S. licensed physicians that can review your information and concerns and pair you with the top of the line treatment options. We carry generic Viagra (Sildenafil) and generic Cialis (Tadalafil) in a range of doses and at very competitive prices.
If you are interested in seeing if a prescription treatment for ED is a good choice for you, simply select the medication you are considering and complete a free questionnaire-based telemedicine consultation in under 15 minutes.
If you are a good candidate for a treatment, your medication will be shipped to your front door with our fast and free shipping.