Cyclists risk impotence if they choose wrong bike


London : Men who rely on cycling to stay fit might be doing their bit for the environment but risk loss of potency if their choice of bicycle is not right, warned a urologist of Indian origin.

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Vindo Nargund, surgeon-urologist at St Bartholomew’s and Homerton Hospitals here, said the problems to look out for include genital numbness, erectile problems and soreness and skin irritations in the groin area.

Men who cycle a lot can also experience changes in their sperm function, because of the excessive heat generated in the pelvic area.

No general link between cycling and male infertility has been established, but it is still recognised as a possible side effect and has been noted in a number of male cyclists.

Nargund pointed out that more than 60 percent of male cyclists who have taken part in research studies have reported genital numbness.

Regular cyclists also run a higher risk of testicular damage and impaired testicular function. Mountain bikers run a particular risk, says Nargund, as studies have shown that they exhibit higher levels of scrotal abnormalities than on-road cyclists.

“The bicycle saddle is in direct contact with the perineum and its underlying structures,” he explained. “It makes contact just behind the scrotum where the nerves and blood vessels enter the back of the scrotum and penis.

“This area is sensitive, with hair follicles and sweat and sebaceous glands, which are all good breeding grounds for infection,” reports Sciencedaily.

“Abrasions, chafing, damaged hair follicles and bruising are among the most traumatic cycling injuries. Sweating in this area can also cause soreness and skin problems.”

“There is a greater incidence of numbness and erectile problems in men who cycle regularly and over longer training distances. That is why it is important to rest intermittently during prolonged and vigorous cycling.”

“The male cyclist should know his bicycle well and a proper fit is particularly important for high-performance cycling” he said.

“The level of pedal resistance is also very important, because riding a bike using too much resistance is a major cause of health problems in the groin area.”