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For Casual Rider, Cycling Health Risks Contested

Idaho has bike trails all over the state, including the Owyhee Canyonlands, above. (CorrieRosetti/Flickr)
Idaho has bike trails all over the state, including the Owyhee Canyonlands, above. (CorrieRosetti/Flickr)
May 19, 2017

BOISE, Idaho – This time of year, cycling is many people's choice to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors.

But, a study by Yale researchers in 2006 linked cycling to problems with sexual health and urinary dysfunction. Now, a new team of scientists disputes those results.

New research says the Yale study was small and focused mostly on extreme athletes, not those who bike for exercise, leisure or to commute.

Dr. Mohannad Awad, resident physician at the University of California-San Francisco and a member of the American Urological Association, authored the new study.

"Surprisingly, the results were completely contradictory to the previous results," he said. "We found that cyclists have no worse sexual or urinary functions compared to other, non-cyclist athletes."

There are many bicycling-related events happening in communities around the state, and a guide to Idaho's biking trails is available online.

Awad says previous studies raised questions about the risks associated with prolonged perineal pressure in men and women who bike regularly. They linked this pressure to numbness, pain and erectile dysfunction in men, and suggested cycling also may be a hazard to women's sexual health.

But Awad says this new research focused on the average weekend cyclist, rather than athletes who ride for very long distances.

"When the previous studies have been done in the past, the cycling community just got worried," he adds. "And a lot of people might have just stopped cycling for a long time. So, we just wanted to reach out to all the cyclists, all over the world, and let them know the results."

Awad says riding a bike is one of the healthiest forms of exercise, so he advises everyone to strap on a helmet and enjoy the ride.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID