Vol.7: ED and cycling

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【ED and cycling】


Most people would imagine the emergency room or the orthopedics department when they are told that someone got hurt and went to the hospital during cycling. However, did you know that, in fact, quite a few cyclists end up at the urology department? According to a study in the United States, it has been reported that 61% of cycling athletes (cyclists who do more than 400-km of training per week) are actually suffering from paralysis of sense in the sexual organs caused by penile nerve functional disorder, and that symptoms of ED has also been seen in 24% of these cases. Besides this, although its possibility isn’t high, it has been pointed out that dermatitis, prostatitis, deferential laceration, bloody urine, penile blood tumors, priapism, and so on are caused by cycling. It’s said that most of the cyclists who join the Tour de France which is the highest level of bicycle race in the world, are having some sort of pubic problems. Also, according to another research which compared the morbidity prevalence rate of ED between cyclists and swimmers, the cyclist was two times more likely to suffer from ED than swimmers.
One scientific paper from the United States describes the risk factors for being more likely to develop urologic-diseases due to cycling are as follows,

  • People who do cycling more than 3 hours per week (approximately 62 km/ week) .
  • People who are older than 50 years of age.
  • People who are overweight (BMI more than 25). The pressure on the pubic region is more when people are heavier in weight).
  • People who have vacular diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes and angiitis etc.
  • People who have been doing cycling for more than 10 years.
  • Cyclers who use the aero handle (a type of handle in which people need to bend down).
  • Cyclers who use bicycle seats which are harder and skinnier like a racing bicycle.
  • People who use the bicycle in situations where there is a high resistance force (the gear is too high).

Estimates exist that there are more than 3,000,000 patients suffering from ED in the U.S. which is caused by cycling in combination with the health boom and eco boom. It’s not well known in Japan, yet, but in foreign countries where cycling is more popular, it seems quite common. As for the urologic-diseases such as ED caused by cycling, it is difficult to recover once the symptom has started to show. The cyclers will need to get along while both enjoying cycling and paying attention to the risk of the urologic-disease such as ED etc. Placing a priority on comfort more than speed for the saddle and for the handle position and type, wearing padded cycling pants and limiting riding time to within 2 hours a day should help. On the other hand, cycling is one of the moderate aerobic exercises which are effective for stress release and preventing metabolic syndrome. From this point of view, cycling is an effective way to improve or prevent ED, therefore it isn’t necessarily bad for everything. So what we need is a good balance, isn’t it?


【Supervisor of this article】

Ken Takemori, MD. An anesthesiologist and Director of Shibuya 3rd Block Clinic.


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