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More cycling and ED

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Joined: 23 Nov 2009
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:25 am GMT +0000    Post subject: More cycling and ED Reply with quote

I am a 27 year old cyclist, 6'4", 167 lbs. and in excellent health. I am a cat 1 road racer. I was riding exclusively on the road for 6 years, and I have been racing for 4.

Since my season ended in late August, I've been riding almost exclusively off road. Most of my rides have been weekday rides of just over an hour, but I have been on several weekend MTB rides longer than 4 hours as well as two rides in the 8-10 hour range. Lately, since it's the off season, I have been mixing running and plenty of rest into my schedule. I haven't ridden a bike in nearly 2 weeks.

I am writing because I have been unable to achieve an erection since late September. I visited a urologist when I started to suspect I may have a problem, but he completely wrote off any concerns that my problem could be related to cycling.

The situation is complicated by the fact that I am not currently sexually active for religious reasons (until I get married in March) and for the same reason I avoid masturbation. I think I can identify a sudden onset of the problem, which I believe indicates a psychological problem; however, there are specific reasons I suspect otherwise.

First is the fact that I've spent so much time on the bike over the past four years. Three years ago I had my bike professionally fit, which resulted in a much greater drop to my bars than I had previously been riding. Since then (and possibly before, but I honestly can't remember), numbness has been an occasional problem, although I typically pay attention to that. I stand frequently, and I spend most of my time in the hoods and the flats to keep things comfortable. However, numbness still happens, primarily in race situations (especially time trials--which I avoid--and crits). I've heard of cyclists going numb for days and weeks, but this has never happened to me, and circulation usually returns quickly.

Second is the fact that I do not experience morning erections. I don't know when that stopped, but I never paid attention until recently because it wasn't until I became concerned about ED and began researching the issue that I became aware that morning erections were an indicator of reproductive health.

Third is the fact that I tried to achieve an erection just to put my mind at ease. I tried unsuccessfully to do so through manual stimulation, and while I did have an orgasm, I did not have an erection other than a partial erection at the point of ejaculation.

Finally, I became aware of the "stamp test" for nocturnal erections, and the first few times I tried it it worked, suggesting that everything is functioning properly. I continued performing the test to keep my mind at ease (a possibly neurotic action, I know), and while the test worked consistently, it no longer seems to.

Obviously, the whole situation has me pretty freaked out. I have stopped riding my bike, but things seem to be getting worse, not better (e.g., failed stamp tests). Furthermore, I no longer have much of a libido (I still want sex, but I don't really get "hot and bothered.")

My questions are the following:
Is it likely or even possible that cycling has damaged me physiologically? Can cycling cause damage so gradually that the onset of impotence would not be noticed until it was too late? Would such damage be reversed if I were to stop cycling, would it require medical intervention, or would it be irreversible? Is there any way to conclusively diagnose such damage?

Also, is the lack of morning and nocturnal erections a clear indicator of physiological damage, or are there other possible (or likely) explanations?

I apologize for the long post. Thanks for your help.
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The Bike Doc

Joined: 08 May 2003
Posts: 1371
Location: Corpus Christi and Warda, Texas

PostPosted: Sat Dec 05, 2009 6:58 pm GMT +0000    Post subject: Reply with quote


Prolonged riding in the crouched position (riding the rivet) can cause compression of the peroneal nerve and lead to numbness and dysfunction to the penis. My first introduction to it was on a 60mile road ride I did with a former US Olympian. I was doing everything I had to hang onto his wheel, riding the rivet. In the last five miles I got spit out the back like a chewed up bone. When I got back I had numbness and dysfunction to the privates. I talked to one of the more experienced bikers and he said I just had my introduction to the DDD (dreaded dead dingus). It took a day for feeling and function to come back. Long distance high mileage riders can experience this more severely.

What can you do to get relief? Stay off the rivet and out of the crouched position as much as possible. Raise the handle bars up to get a more upright position. Make sure your seat is not set too high where your pelvis has to rock to the side of the foot that is at bottom dead center. Look at some alternative saddles that have reliefs cut out under the area where the pubic bone sits. And for the ultimate relief, look seriously at recumbent bikes for your road riding. A past editor for Bicycling magazine was a big time high mileage rider who experienced prolonged DDD and found exquisite relief in a recumbent. I have written an article regrading the medical benefits of recumbents. Follow this link

For off road riding mountain bikes rule. Giving the frequent position changing and getting out of the saddle required for off road riding on mountain bikes, the DDD is far less common.

Paul K. Nolan, MD
AKA: The Bike Doc
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