People who have taken to cycling for a better health and environment have done a great job on their part for both themselves and the world. However, its time that the male cyclists take extra care, warns Vinod Nargund, consultant urological surgeon from St Bartholomew’s and Homerton Hospitals, London.
According to Nargund, men can face problems like genital numbness, erection problems, soreness and skin irritations in the groin area, if they do not choose a right bicycle.
Although, no common link between male infertility has been identified, however many evidences of the low-sperm condition and side-effects has been witnessed in many cyclists.
Nargund also warns that men can encounter changes in their sperm function, and regular cyclists are at greater danger of testicular damage and weakened testicular function. The ones who especially have to take a lot of care are the mountain bikers since there have been studies which have confirmed large level of scrotal abnormalities in them than in on-road cyclists.
“The bicycle saddle is in direct contact with the perineum and its underlying structures” he explains. “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. 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.”
“Numbness is common because the pressure of the saddle can impair the blood supply to this area and put pressure on the nerves in the penis” says Mr Nargund. “This can also affect the man’s ability to get an erection. 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.”
Nargund also reports that as much as 60 percent of the male cyclists who participated in the research have informed about experiencing genital numbness.
What can really help these side-effects is a right bike asserts Nargund.
“The male cyclist should know his bicycle well and a proper fit is particularly important for high-performance cycling” he says. “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. Cyclists can also help to ease saddle-related injuries or skin irritations by adjusting the saddle height and fore and aft position. Padding in the saddle and shorts are also important if cyclists want to avoid saddle-related problems.”
The ‘health issues of cycling in men’ by Vinod Nargund has been published in the online edition of BJU International’s urology journal.