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Ate Anna    Biking in comfort

Dear Ate Anna:

My husband decided to start exercising this spring. He has been riding his bike to work several times a week since the snow melted. I am so proud of him for thinking about his health. Recently he has noticed some difficulties with his erections. He is thinking that the biking causes this because he sometimes feels numb between his legs. It seems this happens after he rides to work 3 or 4 days in a row. Ate Anna, could the biking be causing his erection problems? Will this be a permanent problem?



Dear Sylvia,

It is good to hear that your husband is thinking about his health and the importance of fitness. Are you joining him on weekend bike rides? Everyone needs to take part in some kind of exercise to maintain fitness and good health.

Ate Anna has heard of this problem of numbness after bike riding. The problem may not be the actual bike riding, but the seat and how your husband sits on it that is causing the numbness. Both men and women can experience numbness in the perineum area – the part of the body between the legs. Men can also have numbness in the testicles and/or the penis.

The first thing the experts would tell your husband to try is adjusting the position of his bicycle seat. Tilting the nose of the seat down or lowering the height of the seat will help relieve the pressure on the perineum and the pudendal nerve. The shape of the bicycle seat can also help relieve numbness and prevent the development of more serious problems. One study showed that some of the newer seat designs reduced perineal pressure by approximately 50%.

There is some disagreement among researchers and cyclists about which seat shape is the best. Some options are seats with the middle cut out, noseless seats, gel seats, or wide cushioned seats. We have to remember that each person is unique. Body build, height, and weight are important things to consider when purchasing both the bicycle and a comfortable seat. The seat must also suit the type of riding a person does. A person who races or rides quickly needs a different seat than someone who rides more casually on a cruiser bike.

Your husband may need to do some research to find the seat that works best for him. And remember that men and women are built differently, so if you are cycling with your husband you will need to do your own shopping. It is also important to consider the clothing that is worn when cycling – especially when it is on a regular basis. For example, jeans and most shorts have seams in the crotch area. Sitting on these seams puts pressure on the groin area causing discomfort and numbness. It is a good idea to buy cycling shorts, which are free of seams and have padding.

Sylvia, you do not say how old your husband is. There are many possible causes of his erection difficulties and he should discuss this with his doctor. If he is middle-aged, your husband could just be noticing that he is not 25 years old anymore and lack of exercise, fatigue and stress are affecting his body in this way.

However, some men of all ages do report difficulties with erections that they believe are the result of their cycling. Ate Anna should also say that there are many different opinions about this subject. Some “experts” believe cycling is good for your sex life because it is good exercise. What most experts agree on is that a person’s riding style (position of the seat and the handlebars) and both the bicycle and the seat can affect genital numbness. Another factor that can improve comfort is moving around regularly to shift the pressure points. For example, standing occasionally relieves the pressure on the genital area and gets a different set of muscles working.

This is the time for your husband to talk to one of the experts at a reputable cycling shop. You can also find information on websites such as – but be careful of websites that are just trying to sell you expensive equipment. Happy cycling!


Ate Anna

Ate Anna welcomes your question and comments. Please write to: Ate Anna, 2nd floor, 555 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB. R3C OW4 or e-mail:

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