To some men, bicycles may look like the key to good health and a prosperous sex life—riding around all day keeps you fit and attractive; you can save that $4.50 a gallon of gas money for your date/girlfriend/boyfriend/house party; and you get to wear really, really tight clothes. But there’s a downside. Cycling can also cause genital numbness, erection problems and skin irritations in the groin area, a new report in the urology journal BJU International confirms, citing several medical studies over the last few years.
Mountain bike riders exhibit the most “scrotal abnormalities”, explains the study’s author Vinod Nargund of St Bartholomew’s and Homerton Hospitals, London, while long-distance riders suffer the most numbness and erectile problems. Bicycle seats make contact with male riders right behind the scrotum and put pressure on the areas nerves and blood vessels. Riders can mitigate the damage by paying close attention to the fit of their bike, making sure they are fully padded, and taking lots of breaks, says Nargund.
Luckily the bruises are usually only skin-deep—no direct link has ever been made between bikes and infertility, the study contends.