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Cycling is a healthy, environmentally friendly, and efficient way of getting around but I’m yet to find a bike seat that gets anywhere close to being comfortable. There’s considerable pressure on your perineum (the area between your scrotum and your anus) when you straddle a bike seat, and this compresses the nerves and blood vessels that supply the penis1,2. This could theoretically result in impaired sexual and reproductive function.

Effects on genital blood supply, nerve function and temperature have all been hypothesised as potential problems but there is no good evidence that cycling for exercise and recreation causes problems with sexual function or infertility in men. Some early studies suggested that fertility and erectile function could be affected by cycling but recent larger and more rigorous studies do not show an effect3,4.

Being active and eating well are easy and effective things you can do to maximise your fertility. Cycling is good for your health and very unlikely to be harmful to your fertility. If you’re worried, maybe try a non-nose bike seat1.

Read more: Factors that impact sperm health


Answered by: Associate Professor Tim Moss

healthy-male-health-content-manager-tim-mossAssociate Professor Tim Moss has PhD in physiology and more than 20-years’ experience as a biomedical research scientist. Tim stepped away from his successful academic career at the end of 2019, to apply his skills in turning complicated scientific and medical knowledge into information that all people can use to improve their health and well being.

Tim has written for crikey.com and Scientific American’s Observations blog, which is far more interesting than his authorship of over 150 academic publications. He has studied science communication at the Alan Alda Centre for Communicating Science in New York, and at the Department of Biological Engineering Communication Lab at MIT in Boston.

 


[1] Munarriz et al., 2005. Only the Nose Knows: Penile Hemodynamic Study of the Perineum–Saddle Interface in Men with Erectile Dysfunction Utilizing Bicycle Saddles and Seats with and without Nose Extensions. The Journal of Sexual Medicine DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2005.00089.x

[2] Bressel et al., 2007. Influence of bicycle seat pressure on compression of the perineum: A MRI analysis. Journal of Biomechanics DOI: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2005.11.017

[3] Panara et al., 2019. Adverse Effects of Common Sports and Recreational Activities on Male Reproduction. European Urology DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euf.2018.04.013

[4] Hollingworth et al., 2015. An observational study of erectile dysfunction, infertility, and prostate cancer in regular cyclists: Cycling for health UK study. International Journal of Surgery DOI: https://doi.org/10.1089/jomh.2014.0012

Keywords:
Preconception health
Reproductive health
Fertility & infertility
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