Uncomfortably numb: Bike handlebars linked to sexual dysfunction


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Bicycling has physical and environmental health benefits, but could it be wrecking women’s sexual health? According to a new Yale University study, the answer is yes — and handlebars may be the culprit.

The study, published last month in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, tested 48 premenopausal women who rode bikes a minimum of 10 hours a week. Results revealed that the women who had to bend lower to reach the handlebars, particularly below the saddle, put added pressure on the pelvis, causing numbness.

Studies dating back to 2004 linked frequent cycling and sexual dysfunction in men, but studies on women weren’t conducted until much later, comparing genital sensation of runners to cyclists in 2006 and studying the effects of bicycle seats on women’s sexual health in 2011. A vagina deemed less important than a penis? Shocking! Luckily, these new findings are leading to additional research for women.

Save your vagina!
Stop slouching and raise your handlebars above the saddle. Talk to a bike shop pro if you need help finding the right setup. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health also recommends using a no-nose bicycle saddle, which has been shown to reduce pressure in men by 65% or more. There are many different types of no-nose seats, such as the — wait for it — Spongy Wonder. Amazon.com has plenty of options as well, including the Schwinn No Pressure Bicycle seat. Visit NIOSH’s website for more information about bicycling and reproductive health.

These adjustments may take some getting used to, but it’s a small price to pay for keeping your orgasms.