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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.

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