Recent Blog Articles

On call: Biking and erectile dysfunction

Updated: December 01, 2006

On call

Biking and erectile dysfunction

Q. Whenever I ride my bike for more than an hour or so, I notice a numbness in my penis. I know that can lead to impotence, so I've stopped taking long rides. But I see some policemen in my town patrolling on bikes all day long. Will they end up with problems?

A. It's a good question. In fact, researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health shared your curiosity. They evaluated 17 members of bicycling patrol units in Cincinnati, Ohio. The men averaged nearly 5½ hours in the saddle each workday, and 91% experienced genital numbness from time to time. More significantly, when the members of the patrol underwent nocturnal penile tumescence testing, they showed fewer nighttime erections than volunteers who did not ride bikes. The men who rode the most were at the highest risk for erectile dysfunction. In addition, the researchers found that the men who exerted the most pressure on the bike seats had the most problems.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.