Hidden Dangers of Riding a Bicycle

male cyclist, bike rider, bicycleMen who take up cycling could be harming their health if they don‘t choose the right bicycle. They should be wary of problems ranging from genital numbness, erection problems and soreness to skin irritation in the groin area.

Men who cycle frequently can also experience changes to their sperm function because of the excessive heat generated in the pelvic area. Male infertility is recognized as a possible side effect of cycling. Regular cyclists also run a higher risk of testicular damage and impaired testicular function.

Mountain bikers run a particular risk. Studies have shown that they exhibit higher levels of scrotal abnormalities than on-road cyclists.

What should men look for in a bicycle? The proper fit, including the correct level of pedal resistance and saddle height. A properly padded saddle, along with bike shorts, can also help to reduce sexual problems among male cyclists.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Cycling can be a great way to spend some time in nature, get exercise and serves as a useful mode of transportation, so it’s no wonder that its popularity is increasing. Between 2006 and 2007, the National Sporting Goods Association reported a 5 percent increase in U.S. cyclists and with gas pushing $5 a gallon that is sure to increase.

But men really do need to be careful when taking up this activity, especially if they want to have children.

Is Cycling Safe for Men?

The bicycle seat puts pressure on the nerves and blood vessels at the back of your scrotum. This can impact a man’s ability to get an erection, and it can cause numbness, soreness and other irritations.

Mountain biking in particular can cause severe problems because of the rough terrain. One study in The Lancet even found that 96 percent of male mountain bikers had scrotal abnormalities such as:
  • Calcium deposits
  • Spermatoceles (sperm-containing cysts)
  • Twisted veins
Another study, this one by Dr. Ferdinand Frauscher, a urology-radiology specialist at University Hospital in Innsbruck, Austria, found that the impact of cycling on the groin could lead to small scars within the scrotum and ultimately lower sperm production.

Among those who were avid mountain bikers (riding more than two hours a day, six days a week) 90 percent had low sperm counts and scrotal abnormalities.

The other problem, aside from the contact with the bicycle seat itself, is the heat generated in the groin area. This can also impact sperm function.

If you are a man who loves biking, take the precautions to protect yourself by having a specialist help you find a properly fitting bike. Padded bike shorts are another must.

Generally, most men don’t ride enough miles to cause major problems, but if you do cycle often be sure to take periods of rest during longer rides.

Staying Safe While on Your Bike

Everyone who rides a bicycle needs to be aware of the safety risks, particularly if you ride on roadways with motor vehicles. In 2006, 773 U.S. cyclists were killed and another 44,000 were injured in traffic crashes, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

They found cyclist fatalities were most likely to occur:
  • In urban areas
  • At non-intersection locations
  • Between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • During the months of June, July and August
So if you are using cycling solely as a form of exercise, you may want to consider switching to another form of cardio, like jogging or using an elliptical machine. Because these latter two are weight-bearing activities, you’ll actually get results much faster than you will riding a bicycle.

If you simply adore cycling, you can continue to do so safely by:
  • Wearing a properly fitted bicycle helmet (this will greatly reduce your risk of a head injury if you do crash)
  • Riding in the same direction as traffic and obeying traffic signs
  • Wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing (even during the day)
  • Not riding at night (or at least using a front light, flashing rear reflector and reflective tape on your clothing if you do)
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