Women who cycle on a regular basis are at an increased risk of losing sensation their pelvic regions, and may experience less pleasure during sex, according to a new Yale study.
While previous studies have linked cycling to numbness of genitalia and erectile dysfunction in males, especially if they ride on a bike that has handlebars that are either parallel or higher than the saddle.
However, the latest findings show the opposite in females.
Researchers, reporting in the May edition of the Journal Of Sexual Medicine, found that female cyclists who position their handlebars lower than the bike’s seat are at risk of decreased anterior vaginal and left labial genital sensation because of increased pressures put on the nerves and blood vessels surrounding the female cyclists’ genitalia.
The study consisted of 48 women who all bicycled at least ten miles a week, four weeks a month. Participants were instructed to ride their own bikes that were mounted on stationary stands and researcher asked them if they experienced “soreness, tingling and other sensations” in their lower body.
Researchers then determined the women’s sensation in their pelvic floor using a pressure map which “measured in microns using biosthesiometry measures of vibratory thresholds,” researchers wrote.
“Handlebars positioned lower than the saddle were significantly associated with increased perineum saddle pressures and decreased genital sensation in female cyclists,” according to the study.
Scientists suggest that by adjusting the height of the handlebars, the rider’s genital sensitivity and capacity for sexual pleasure will be less compromised.
“Modifying bicycle setup may help alleviate neuropathies in females,” the researchers explained.
The latest research follows a 2006 Yale study that linked cycling to decreased genital sensation in females, but researchers in the previous study had found no explanation.
Cycling has long been associated with male erectile dysfunction but the impact of bicycling on women has been less explored, according to researchers.
“Women riders also have decreased genital sensation; however, sparse information exists addressing the effects of modifiable risks on neurological injuries in females,” they concluded.