Men's Health and Cycling
Now that the Giro d’Italia Big Start has finished in Ireland after leaving a massive trail of pink success, a lot of us have a new found buzz for the cycling sport. Dr Roger Brown looks at some common health concerns men often have about the sport – that being mainly damage to the prostate, testicles and sperm production.
Many men who cycle wonder if there are any associated health risks relating to the prostate gland, penis or testicles?
Prostate Scotland recently published a very helpful article summarising part of the answer which a lot of men with concerns will find useful.
Basically there is no association between cycling and prostate disease of a benign or malignant type. Cycling can temporarily increase the levels of a blood marked called Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) -often used in the monitoring and management of Prostate disease. Therefore it is important to not cycle for any significant distance in the day or two before this blood test is taken.
Wiley and Blackwell also published research in 2008 about testicular and scrotal problems.
Erectile problems may result from many long hours in the saddle due to the pressure on the tiny nerves and blood vessels in the area behind the testicles (perineum) being damaged by constant pressure and friction associated with sitting on a bicycle saddle. The use of grooved cycle saddles may help reduce the risks by relieving pressure on the perineum.
Regular cyclists also run a higher risk of testicular damage and impaired testicular function. There is no clear association with reduced sperm counts and infertility, but after a long period of cycling a man may noticed a change in his sperm production, thought to be caused by the heat generated in this enclosed area. More than 60 per cent of male cyclists who have taken part in these and other research studies have reported genital numbness too.
Mountain bikers run a particular risk, as studies have shown that they exhibit higher levels of scrotal abnormalities than on-road cyclists.
Adjusting the height and the fore and aft position of the saddle may reduce the associated damage caused by cycling. The correct type of saddle will help too.
Skin problems may also occur when cycling a lot. Chaffing or abrading the skin due to inappropriate clothing or saddle type is common. Fungal infections occur due to sweating and tight lycra clothing in this area with hair follicles and sweat glands and other glands. Sweating can also cause soreness and aggravate other skin problems like eczema, psoriasis etc.
There is no doubt that cycling is good for us and for our environment, but men particularly need to take care to avoid some of the downsides of cycling, which are usually avoidable.
3fivetwo Group have extensive access to Urologists, Dermatologists and General Practitioners who would be happy to see you for a discussion about any of the above issues. Cyclists can also avail of the National Sports Clinic for quick treatment for a winde range of sporting injuries. To make an appointment please call us on 0845 60 06 352