Previous studies have long-suggested that there’s a link between sexual and urinary dysfunction for women cyclists. However, a new study is showing the more miles a woman rides, the better her sex life is.
Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, found women cyclists had better sexual function compared to other athletes.
However, the study also found that female cyclists were also more likely to develop bladder infections, saddle sores and genital numbness.
The UCSF researchers examined a group of 3,118 women – 34 per cent were non-cyclists, 53 per cent were low-intensity cyclists, and 13 per cent were high-intensity cyclists
Survey participants were divided into two groups: low-intensity and high-intensity riders. High-intensity riders were defined as women who had cycled for more than two years and rode their bikes more than three times weekly, averaging more than 25 miles each time.
Altogether, 3,118 women completed the survey. Of those, 34 percent were non-cyclists, 53 percent were low-intensity cyclists, and 13 percent were high-intensity cyclists. The majority of participants were white, under age 40, single and normal weight. In addition to the Female Sexual Function Index, they also completed the American Urological Symptom Index questionnaire.
The cyclists were queried on numerous factors: bike type (mountain, road, hybrid, recumbent); saddle type (wide, unpadded, long); frequency of wearing padded shorts; amount of time standing while cycling; saddle angle; handlebar height; and type of riding surface (urban, rural, off road).
The researchers adjusted for a number of factors, including age, race, body mass index, hypertension, diabetes and tobacco use.
The researchers confirmed an association between cycling and genital numbness and saddle sores, but no association between cycling intensity or duration and sexual or urinary function. This study also showed some indication of improved sexual function among high-intensity bike riders, as measured by significantly greater scores on the Female Sexual Function Index and a lower odds of reporting sexual dysfunction than non-cyclists. They said further study is warranted, particularly concerning a possible link between cycling and urinary tract infections.
“We found that lifetime miles ridden was associated with better sexual function, as measured by a common, validated questionnaire,” said first author Thomas W. Gaither, a UCSF medical student.
“One of the more novel findings of the study is that lifetime miles ridden were directly correlated with saddle sores and urinary tract infections,” Gaither said. “These findings may be considered by some as minor, however, saddle sores and infections may inhibit sexual activity. If we could find a way to prevent saddle sores and infections, we believe that cycling might improve the sexual health of women.”
You can read the full study at The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
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