Impotent Cyclists

In 1997, Boston University Medical School urologist Irwin Goldstein declared, “There are only two kinds of male cyclists: those who are impotent and those who will be impotent.”
In 1997, Boston University Medical School urologist Irwin Goldstein declared, “There are only two kinds of male cyclists: those who are impotent and those who will be impotent.” Bike racers and cycling enthusiasts from around the world claimed loudly and emphatically that Dr. Goldstein’s statement was bunk and ridiculed anyone who said differently. More than 10 years later and after mountains of research, it looks like Dr. Goldstein was right. More than 20 medical studies found that cycling caused injuries to the urogenital system in men and women. Up to 91 percent of cyclists experience genital numbness after rides lasting several hours. Nearly 25 percent of cyclists suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED), an incidence four times greater than age-matched runners and swimmers. Cyclists also have an increased risk of priapism (prolonged, unwanted erections), blood clots in the penis, low sperm counts, hemoglobin in the urine, stress on the spermatic cord, inflammation of the prostate gland, and PSA elevation (a marker of prostate enlargement and cancer). Steven Schrader and colleagues, from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Cincinnati, showed that switching to no-nose bicycle saddles cut down on peritoneal numbness and erection problems linked to bicycle riding. They studied 121 police officers from five different metropolitan departments who rode bicycles on duty an average of 24 hours per week. After using a no-nose saddle for six months, the percentage of men reporting no genital numbness increased from 27 percent to 82 percent. The no-nose saddle caused a much wider weight distribution, which placed less stress on sensitive tissues. With only a few exceptions, the officers adapted well to the new saddle. (Journal Sexual Medicine, in press; published online)

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