Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get and/or maintain an erection, and it’s probably more common than you think. In fact, 10% of the global population are believed to suffer from the condition, with many different factors responsible.
Underlying health complications such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure mean that a man is more likely to suffer from ED, while a wide range of psychogenic factors (such as anxiety, depression and stress, as well as lifestyle choices such as drinking, drugs and smoking) can also cause erectile problems.
One factor which you may have not considered, however, is the humble bicycle. While cycling does represent an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise (and one which puts less strain on hips and knees than running), there is scientific research suggesting it may also contribute to problems in the bedroom.
How does cycling affect sexual performance?
When you spend an extended period of time on a bicycle seat, you put concerted pressure on the perineum – that is, the area between the anus and the sexual organs. The perineum contains several key nerves and arteries, including the pudendal artery (the main supply of blood to the penis) and the pudendal nerve (the main nerve in the perineum).
Those who cycle on a daily basis may discover feelings of numbness or even discomfort in the genital region. That’s because protracted periods of pressure on the pudendal nerve and artery can cause temporary damage to them, thus restricting blood flow to the genitals. While the discomfort will normally wear off within an hour or two, the restricted blood flow can persist for longer, thus resulting in the ability to attain or sustain an erection.
What can be done?
If you suffer from ED and fear it may be caused by cycling, there’s no reason to give up the sport entirely or throw your bicycle on the nearest rubbish tip. Here are a few tips you can try to see if it improves the problem:
- Switch from a “nosed” saddle to a “noseless” one; more rectangular in shape, these can offer better support to the perineum and encourage you to put your weight onto your sitbones
- Try out an ergonomic saddle with a cut-out area – but only if this meshes with your own physiognomy. These particular solutions are not for everyone, so sample it to see if it feels comfortable before purchasing
- Make sure the saddle is properly and professionally installed. Even the best quality and fit will be detrimental if unsecured or out of position
- Lower the handlebars to encourage a more forward-leaning posture, thereby relieving pressure on the perineum
- Mix cycling with other forms of exercise, including jogging, swimming or rowing. A balanced workout session combining different activities is better for your overall body health in any case
See a professional
As mentioned above, there are many different causes for ED and just because you’re an avid cycler, that doesn’t mean the bike is necessarily the root of the problem. At Harley MD, we’re fully experienced in erectile dysfunction treatment and can work with you to pinpoint the cause of your problem, then put intoplace a treatment programme that will have you back to your best in no time.