Wednesday, 09 Jul, 2008 Health & Fitness
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Male Cyclists Could Develop Erection Problems and Genital Numbness

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Men, who enjoy cycling for staying fit, may certainly benefit the environment but they may also cause serious harm to their health in case they choose the wrong bicycle. Mr. Vinod Nargund, consultant urological surgeon from St Bartholomew's and Homerton Hospitals in London says that cycling may provoke such problems as genital numbness, erection problems, sores and skin irritation in the groin area.

In addition, men who really like cycling a lot must be aware that they may experience changes linked to the sperm functions, which are provoked by excessive heat produced in the pelvic area. However, scientists found no direct connection between cycling and male infertility, but they still consider that male infertility may be one of the problems linked with cycling. It's worth mentioning that this problem has been identified in a number of professional male cyclists, who are also at a higher risk of damaging testicles and their function.

According to Mr. Nargund, mountain bikers are at a higher risk of getting scrotal abnormalities than on-road cyclists.

"The bicycle saddle is in direct contact with the perineum and its underlying structures. 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," explained the scientist.

The scientist outlines that the research studies showed that over 60 percent of male cyclists had genital numbness.

"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. 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," said Mr. Nargund. He says that it is very important to choose the right bike.

"The male cyclist should know his bicycle well and a proper fit is particularly important for high-performance cycling. 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," he said.

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