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Does Bicycling Cause Impotence?

Does Bicycling Lead to Impotence?

(this article was written in 1999)

As the media, the bicycle industry, and the medical community all continue to debate the question(s) of cycling and impotency, perhaps a rational measure of educated information is in order.

I have spent the better part of the last decade perfecting bike fitting. As a result, I have found that with time and patience, there is yet the person whose stiff neck, sore knees, or even numb genitals didn’t benefit from careful adjustment of the correct size bicycle, its equipment, and the rider’s position on it. And, while there is no question that many physical problems might occur while cycling, I contend that it just doesn’t have to be so!

Don’t misunderstand. I am not in any way dismissing these ideas out of hand. In fact, I am taking the entire matter quite seriously. The impact of a statement such as “bicycling leads to impotency” has already had a VERY negative reaction – especially from the rider who is new to the sport or has been thinking about riding more miles. I am, however, very disturbed at the statement for its lack of scientific validity and the manner in which is it on-goingly being presented to the public.

Cycling has been PROVEN to be a healthy cardio-vascular sport and is used extensively in the rehabilitation of everything from knees to hearts. From a non-medical point of view, dozens and dozens of my customers will claim that cycling is the means by which they relieve the stress in their lives. I can’t and won’t argue with that.

Dr. Goldstein, the urologist who blatantly came out with his “cycling causes impotency statement” both in Bicycling Magazine and on ABC’s 20/20 last year, really only has a THEORY! (As an aside, he recanted nearly every one of his statements in a subsequent issue of this same magazine!)

I for one have a lot of questions for Dr. Goldstein. Did these patients already have an impotency problem when they started riding? Did they have other arterial or vascular problems? Is there a history of depression or other mental disorders that might lead to impotence? And, just how did Dr. Goldstein make the giant leap from man-goes-riding to man-becomes-impotent?

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With all the research and development in saddles, position, and good cycling apparel, any discomfort should not be an issue for more than a couple of bike rides. Why didn’t these cyclists go back to their bike shops for advice? How did it get so far before needing to seek help from a urologist?

I cannot comment on anyone who didn’t have the guts or was too embarrassed to come in and ask me to help him. But, since the piece on 20/20 and the “Bicycling Magazine” article, I have queried dozens of men to discover whether they have had any problems with numbness, pain, and especially if they had experienced any incidence of impotence. (A couple have said they became IMPORTANT, but I decided that didn’t count.)

I would almost bet the farm that more damage has been done to men’s genitals from wearing Jockey underwear while cycling, due to the SEAMS, than from arterial compression from a bicycle saddle. So, does wearing underwear cause impotence?

My advice to any man who is experiencing ANY type of problems that he even remotely thinks might be associated with riding his bicycle is to contact his local, professional bicycle dealer for an evaluation of the bicycle and his position on it. I believe that this is a situation that never needs to get out of control.

©1999 Diane Lees

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