Riding bicycles is undoubtedly good for us: great for fitness, cardiovascular health, and burning off those delicious high-energy foods when we over-indulge. But a range of insidious chronic ailments can affect cyclists who spend extended periods on their bikes.
Research published recently in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that regular cycling can potentially affect the sexual health of women. While not a new idea, the latest work finds that what matters most is the configuration of the bicycle and its consequences for riding position.
Reports dating back many years indicate that excessive cycling may lead to infertility in males. This is probably due to impaired thermoregulation of the testes, which must be kept cooler than internal body temperature to maximise healthy sperm production. But another family of genital complaints has a different cause. Most common is genital numbness, or loss of feeling, potentially leading to erectile dysfunction.
To understand how these conditions arise from cycling, let’s look more closely at the anatomy of the pelvis and genitalia, together with the nerves and blood vessels supplying the area.