If you’re a fitness buff who loves cycling long distances, you need to beware of bicycle seat neuropathy. It’s an injury that’s common in cyclists, especially among those who participate in long-distance tours or races.
Bicycle seat neuropathy simply means that your pudendal nerve has been damaged. Your pudendal nerve is a major nerve located in your perineum. It plays an important role in transmitting sensations from your genital area to your brain. Find out how bicycle seat neuropathy can impair your erectile function and interfere with your sex life.
Symptoms of Bicycle Seat Neuropathy
Several factors affect the severity of the symptoms of bicycle seat neuropathy. Some men experience only a mild numbness in their perineum or in their genital area after engaging in long-distance cycling.
Other men experience more severe symptoms such as urinary incontinence, meaning they’re leaking urine or they’re unable to control the flow of urine. Other men experience penile numbness and erectile dysfunction.
Previous studies show that among men who cycle for more than 500 kilometers, as many as more than 10% experience erectile dysfunction after the cycling event. This is usually temporary, but there are cases wherein cyclists are unable to recover their erectile function even a week or a month after the cycling event.
On the one hand, the prevalence of perineal numbness after cycling for more than 500 kilometers is higher, with some studies reporting a prevalence of 22%, while other studies report a prevalence of more than 40%. Female long-distance cyclists are also known to suffer from perineal numbness.
Bicycle Seat Neuropathy and Erectile Dysfunction
Since your pudendal nerve is responsible for carrying sensations from your external genitalia, anus, and perineum, when your pudendal nerve is damaged, either you won’t be able to feel anything from your genital area or the sensations will be reduced.
Furthermore, the pudendal nerve is also responsible for the movements of your pelvic muscles, urethral sphincter, and anal sphincter. Hence, damage to your pudendal nerve will also affect the movements of these muscles.
Scientists believe that compression of the pudendal nerve is one of the causes of bicycle seat neuropathy. Your pudendal nerve connects to the dorsal nerve of your penis, your posterior scrotal nerves, as well as your deep and superficial perineal nerves.
When the dorsal part or the genital branch of your pudendal nerve is the one that’s damaged, that’s when you experience pain or numbness in your scrotum or your penis. When the compression is located in the part that connects to your perineum, then that’s when you feel perineal numbness.
When your pudendal nerve is compressed for long periods of time, it can result in impaired transmission of nerve impulses from your genitals to your brain and vice versa. Either you’re unable to transmit sensations from your penis to your brain, or your brain is unable to transmit the nerve signals that are necessary for an erection to happen.
Either way, damage to your pudendal nerve can lead to erectile dysfunction. In addition, long-distance cycling can also exert pressure on your perineum and cause damage to your pudendal artery, which supplies blood to your external genitalia. Damage to your pudendal artery can likewise lead to erectile dysfunction.
Scientists also believe that long-distance cycling can affect the testosterone signaling mechanism of your hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. This can also indirectly affect your erectile function as well as your libido.
Reducing Your Risks of Erectile Dysfunction
There are several ways by which you can reduce your risks of impotence without completely giving up on your love for cycling. For instance, you can change your bicycle seat. A narrower seat results in more pressure exerted on your perineum, whereas a wider seat with padding can reduce the pressure.
Moreover, a wider bicycle seat can lead to better penile blood flow as well as improved penile oxygen pressure. Studies indicate that although a broad bicycle seat can reduce penile blood flow by around 25%, a narrow seat can reduce the flow of blood to your penis by as much as more than 60%.
You can also switch to lower handlebars. This will make you lean forward which means you will be lifting your backside a little bit. This can also help lessen the pressure on your perineum when you go cycling for long distances.
If it’s not possible for you to reduce your training intensity or lower the number of hours when you go cycling, try to take breaks when you go for long rides. Studies have shown that men who cycle for less than 3 hours every week have lower risks for erectile dysfunction than elite cyclists or those who cycle for more than 3 hours per week.
You’ll need to regularly rest your backside or reduce the pressure on your perineal area so that you won’t experience pudendal nerve or artery damage. You can also try other physical activities or switch between cycling, swimming, jogging, and other aerobic exercises.
Improving Your Erectile Function
A reduced flow of blood to the penis is one of the main causes of impotence. If you’re having issues with your erection, herbal supplements provide a viable alternative solution for erectile dysfunction.
A natural male enhancement supplement, that contains various pro-erectile herbal ingredients, can help improve your erectile function. The herbs used in the formulation of these supplements include Tongkat Ali, horny goat weed, and Tribulus terrestris. It also contains maca, Butea superba, damiana, and muira puama.
These herbs are known to have various positive effects on male sexual performance. For instance, Tongkat Ali and Tribulus terrestris can help raise your testosterone levels, thereby increasing your libido and enhancing your erectile function.
Many of the herbs contained in these are known as potent aphrodisiacs. Muira puama and damiana, for example, are widely used in traditional medicine for the treatment of reduced sexual desire and for the improvement of sexual virility.
Maca and horny goat weed are also known to improve the flow of blood to the male genitals. In fact, both horny goat weed and maca are popular traditional treatments for impotence as well as other male sexual issues such as infertility and low libido.