Can cycling damage my private parts?
Dear Ate Anna:
I am a young man who is very active in sports. My friend told me I should stop riding my bicycle, as this will create damage to my private parts. Is this true?
I am glad you asked this question, as there is often confusion about sports and sexual health.
There is a common worry that cycling may have a negative effect on the functioning of the male’s penis and testes, due to the position of male bodies on bicycle seats. The Journal of Urology recently released a study on this.
The study found that cycling does not increase the likelihood of erectile dysfunction (a condition where the penis is unable to become or stay hard) in males. Likewise, cycling does not increase the chance of a male getting urinary tract infections.
In other words, a male who cycles regularly and a male who does not cycle at all will both have the same likelihoods of experiencing erectile dysfunction or urinary tract infections. Cycling has no effect on these two health problems.
Researchers did discover that males who cycle often have increased odds of experiencing urethral stricture. Urethral stricture is a condition where the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder) becomes narrow (smaller). This condition makes it harder for males to pass urine.
Urethral stricture may happen if the cyclist injures their genital area on their bike bar or in another way during their workout. Urethral stricture can also happen in other ways that are not related to cycling. For example, some sexually transmitted infections contribute to urethral strictures, as does radiation therapy, tumours, or the use of a medical catheter. Urethral strictures are relatively common and have a number of treatment options. Most people who experience urethral strictures heal from them if they receive care from a health care provider.
If a male finds that his genital area feels numb or sore during or after cycling, a simple change in position will help this problem. Make sure to spend at least 20 per cent of your time in a standing position on the bike, and ensure that the handlebars are set at the height of the seat, or higher. By paying attention to these two simple things, you can eliminate much of the discomfort experienced.
As always, if you find that you are experiencing any strange pain in your genital area, it is recommended to talk to your health care professional so they can check it out.
Cycling and other physical activities are very healthy for your body. By cycling carefully, avoiding injuries, switching to a standing position for a portion of your routine, and placing your seat in the right position, you can cycle and best avoid complications. Have fun at the gym!
Ate Anna welcomes your questions and comments. Please write to: Ate Anna, Suite 200-226 Osborne St. N., Winnipeg, MB R3C 1V4 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit us at www.serc.mb.ca. for reliable information and links on the subject of sexuality.