Cycling does not affect men's sexual health, new study finds

Cycling, a popular choice of transportation, exercise, and leisure, may not be harmful for the sexual health and urinary function of males, finds a study.

Authors of the study, published in the Journal of Urology, said their findings contradicted previous research that suggested cycling negatively affected erectile function.

These studies lacked comparison groups and were limited by small sample sizes, they said.

For the study the team recruited 2,774 cyclists, 539 swimmers, and 789 runners and asked participants to complete validated questionnaires about sexual health and urinary tract infections (UTIs) and answer questions on genital numbness, saddle sores, and urethral strictures, which is when a scar from swelling, injury or infection blocks or slows the flow of urine in the urethra. The research also took into account cycling intensity, bicycle and saddle configuration, and even road conditions.

There was also no statistically significant difference between high intensity cyclists - those who have cycled for more than two years more than three times per week and averaging more than 25 miles per day - and recreational cyclists. The non-cyclist group consisted of those that didn't cycle on a regular basis, but who swim or run.

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This survey of the sexual health of cyclists included examinations of the white parts of 2,774 cyclists from the United Kingdom and around the world, and compared their sexual and urinary health with that of swimmers and runners.

Athletes were divided into two groups, hight-intensity cyclists, and low-intensity cyclists meaning the athletes fell below that criteria.

"This is the largest comparative study to date, exploring the associations of cycling, bike and road characteristics with sexual and urinary function using validated questionnaires", says lead investigator Benjamin Breyer, MD, MAS, of the Department of Urology, University of California-San Francisco. Less surprising was the finding that standing for more than 20 percent of the time while riding significantly reduced the chances of genital numbness.

Experts hope that the revelations will encourage cyclists to get back to the sport that provides cardiovascular benefits which they believe outweigh any risk that was earlier believed.

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