The connection between bike riding and erectile dysfunction is one you may never have considered. However, if you experience erectile dysfunction (ED) and bicycling is your preferred workout, there could be a relationship between the two. Scientists have debated for years about whether bicycling can cause erectile dysfunction. It seems likely that prolonged bicycling can indeed increase the risk of developing ED, but pedaling around every now and then probably won’t hurt you. Think of it this way: not everyone who indulges in a cupcake a couple of times per week will develop diabetes. On the other hand, if you already have diabetes, it’s best to stay away from cupcakes. Likewise, if you already have ED or if you bicycle frequently, consider reducing your bicycling time, using a different bike seat, or even changing your bicycling style.
Bike riding and erectile dysfunction: the mechanics
Achieving an erection is a complex process that involves both psychological and physical factors. To make a long story short, external stimuli fire up the nervous system, chemicals are released from the nerve endings, and the smooth muscle relaxes. This dramatically increases blood flow to the penis, causing an erection.
Narrow bicycle seats do not support your entire posterior like a chair does. This means that your body weight places more pressure on the perineum, which is the area between the anus and the pubic bone. The pressure compresses nerves and blood vessels, which can significantly reduce blood flow in just a few minutes.
Is ED from bike riding permanent?
Fortunately, the reduction in blood flow is usually temporary and can be restored if you stand up for a while. However, men who ride bicycles for three or more hours per week may be placing themselves at risk for chronic nerve and blood vessel compression, which may lead to blood clots. This can restrict blood flow on a more long-term basis. Bike riding and erectile dysfunction are a more likely combination among men who are overweight, because this places even more pressure on the perineum region.
How to prevent ED from bike riding
You can help prevent erectile dysfunction by changing your bicycle gear. If your bike does not allow for angle adjustment on the seat, consider getting a new bike that does. Otherwise, tip the seat so that the nose points slightly downward. This reduces pressure on the perineum region. Experiment with different heights of the seat and handlebars until everything feels comfortable. Observe one of your legs while it is at the bottom of the pedal cycle. The knee should be just slightly bent.
You might also consider changing your bicycle seat. No-nose bicycle seats, also called cutout designs, are becoming popular for erectile dysfunction prevention. In addition to the cutout down the middle, this type of seat sometimes features a wider base of support, depending on the brand you select.
The way you ride also affects the pressure on the perineum region. You might wonder why professional cyclists aren’t endorsing products like Cialis for erectile dysfunction. Racing cyclists lean forward so that the majority of their body weight is on the pedals, not the seat. Just bear in mind that placing too much of your weight on the pedals may also lead to foot injuries.
As you ride, change your position often. Fidgeting is good. Take your cue from spinning classes; the instructor will often tell you to stand, sit, and change your speed. Speed might not matter so much, but standing often is especially beneficial, particularly on long bike rides. If you have trouble standing up while bicycling, there’s no shame in hopping off and enjoying the scenery for a little while.
Read more in our Erectile Dysfunction Health Center.