Now that the Tour de France is officially in progress, many people may be motivated to jump on their bike and work on cardiovascular fitness and weight control.
However, although cycling appears to be a benign activity, prolonged riding can cause physical and even sexual harm if an individual does not take precautions.
While the effects of cycling on men’s sexual function has received considerable attention, a new investigation looks into how handlebar position is associated with changes in genital sensation in female cyclists.
Yale University School of Medicine researchers evaluated bicycle setup in terms of the relationship between the seat and the handlebars.
Researchers studied 48 competitive women cyclists.
Researchers measured saddle pressures and sensation in the genital region to see if placing handlebars in different positions affects pressure and sensation in the genital region.
Results showed that placing the handlebar lower than the seat was associated with increased pressure on the genital region and decreased sensation (reduced ability to detect vibration).
“Modifying bicycle setup may help prevent genital nerve damage in female cyclists,” says Marsha K. Guess, MD, MS.
“Chronic insult to the genital nerves from increased saddle pressures could potentially result in sexual dysfunction.”
“There are a myriad of factors affecting women’s sexual function. If women can minimize pressure application to the genital tissues merely by repositioning their handlebars higher, to increase sitting upright, and thereby maximize pressure application to the woman’s sit bones, then they are one step closer to maintaining their very important sexual health,” explained Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.