Erectile dysfunction after a long-distance cycling event: associations with bicycle characteristics

J Urol. 2004 Aug;172(2):637-41. doi: 10.1097/01.ju.0000130749.37731.9f.


Purpose: We conducted a prospective cohort study to examine the relationship between bicycle characteristics and the occurrence of erectile dysfunction.

Materials and methods: Subjects consisted of 463 cyclists completing a cycling event of at least 320 km who were free of erectile dysfunction before their event.

Results: The cumulative incidence of erectile dysfunction after the ride was 4.2% (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.4%-6.8%) and 1.8% (95% CI 0.7%-3.8%) 1 week and 1 month after the event, respectively. Bicycle characteristics associated with an increased risk of erectile dysfunction included a mountain bicycle compared with a road bicycle (risk ratio [RR] 4.1, 95% CI 1.6-12.5), and the relative height of the handlebars parallel with or higher than the saddle compared with the relative handlebar height lower than the saddle (RR 3.0, 95% CI 1.1-9.3). Perineal numbness during the ride was experienced by 31% of the cyclists and was associated with erectile dysfunction (RR 4.4, 95% CI 1.6-12.7). Saddle cutouts were associated with an increased risk of erectile dysfunction among those who experienced numbness (RR 6.0, 95% CI 1.3-27.1), but the association was reversed among those who did not report numbness (RR 0.3, 95% CI 0.0-2.5).

Conclusions: If the associations described are causal, then cyclists on a long-distance ride may be able to decrease the risk of erectile dysfunction by riding a road bicycle instead of a mountain bicycle, keeping handlebar height lower than saddle height and using a saddle without a cutout if perineal numbness is experienced.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicycling*
  • Equipment Design
  • Erectile Dysfunction / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perineum
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors