Men who take up cycling may be putting their sexual health at risk if they choose the wrong bicycle, an expert has warned.
According to a consultant urological surgeon at St Bartholomew's and Homerton Hospitals in London, men with an inadequate bike saddle put themselves at increased risk of genital numbness, erection problems and skin irritations in the groin area.
In addition, the excessive heat generated in the pelvic area can harm sperm function and cause sperm abnormalities, and research has found that mountain bikers are at even greater risk than on-road cyclists.
Writing in the urology journal BJU International, Mr Vinod Nargund revealed that more than 60 per cent of male cyclists taking part in research have reported genital numbness as a result of the saddle impairing their blood supply.
"There is a greater incidence of numbness and erectile problems in men who cycle regularly and over longer training distances," he confirmed. "That is why it is important to rest intermittently during prolonged and vigorous cycling."
Mr Nargund also noted that men should choose their bike carefully and ensure a proper fit, as well as setting the right level of pedal resistance as this can affect the groin area.
"Cyclists can also help to ease saddle-related injuries or skin irritations by adjusting the saddle height and fore and aft position," he said, adding that padding in the saddle and shorts is also important for avoiding saddle-related problems.