Question & Answer

Does cycling cause circulation or nerve damage to men's genitals?

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The Evidence

  • We did not find any systematic reviews that looked at whether cycling causes circulation or nerve damage to men’s genitals.
  • We found one systematic review of moderate quality that found some evidence that cycling might be linked to erectile dysfunction (caused by circulation or nerve damage) when age and various health factors were taken into consideration.
  • However, the authors of this review found that the studies they included were of fair to poor quality.

Guidelines and recommendations

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends certain things to minimise risk, such as using a ‘no-nose’ saddle, making sure that bicycles are properly fitted for use, and dismounting a bicycle when at standstill or if you start to experience numbness or altered sensation.
  • However, these recommendations are not considered high-quality guidelines because they were based on one low-quality study.

Things to Remember

  • Look out for summaries of studies comparing treatments that were not done systematically.
  • Just because a study finds links or associations between two things, this doesn’t prove that one is caused by the other.
  • Treatment effects that are based on the results for subgroups of people within treatment comparisons may be misleading.


  • Lead Researcher: Dr Elaine Toomey, Lecturer in Evidence-Based Healthcare, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Galway.
  • Reviewed by: Dr Paula Byrne, Senior post-doctoral researcher, iHealthFacts, Evidence Synthesis Ireland and Cochrane Ireland, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway.
  • Topic advisor: Dr Caroline McCarthy, Clinical Lecturer and Research Fellow, Department of General Practice, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences and General Practitioner, Leixlip, Co Kildare.
  • Public and Patient advisor: Anne Daly, Public and Patient Involvement in research (PPI) advisor, PPI Ignite, University of Galway.
  • Journalist Advisor: Dr. Claire O’Connell, PhD in cell biology, Masters in Science Communication. Contributor to The Irish Times, writing about health, science and innovation.

Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors have no financial or other conflicts of interest for this health claim summary.