Objective: To assess the association of genital numbness and erectile dysfunction in male cyclists.
Subjects and methods: Cyclists were recruited through Facebook advertisements and outreach to sporting clubs. This is a secondary analysis of a larger epidemiological population-based study that examined sexual and urinary wellness in athletes. We queried cycling habits and erectile function using Sexual Health Inventory for Men (SHIM).
Results: A total of 2 774 male cyclists were included in the analysis. Amongst cyclists, there was a statistically significant increase in the trend of genital numbness presence with more years of cycling (P = 0.002), more frequent weekly cycling (P < 0.001), and longer cycling distance at each ride (P < 0.001). Less frequent use of padded shorts (odds ratio [OR] 0.14, P < 0.001) and lower handlebar (OR 0.49, P < 0.001) were associated with numbness, but body mass index (BMI) (OR 1.1, P = 0.33) and age (OR 1.2, P = 0.15) were not. In a multivariate logistic regression model, after adjusting for age, BMI, and lifetime miles (calculated by average daily cycling mileage × cycling days/week × cycling years.), there were no statistically significant differences in mean SHIM score between cyclists with and cyclists without numbness (20.3 vs 20.2, P = 0.83). However, interestingly, the subset of cyclists who reported numbness in the buttock reported statistically significantly worse SHIM scores (20.3 vs 18.4, P < 0.001). This association was not present in cyclists who reported numbness in the scrotum, penis, or perineum and remained significant after adjusting for overall biking intensity.
Conclusion: Cyclists report genital numbness in proportion with biking intensity but numbness is not associated with worse sexual function in this cohort.
Keywords: bicycling; erectile dysfunction; genitalia; lower urinary tract symptoms; sexual dysfunction.
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