Introduction: The association of cycling with genital numbness has been well-documented in male cyclists. There is a paucity of data on cycling associated genital numbness and its long-term impacts on female sexual function. Our study aims to further characterize the risk factors for genital numbness in female cyclists and examine associations with female sexual dysfunction.
Methods: Participants were recruited through Facebook® advertisements and online outreach to athletic clubs. Surveys on cycling characteristics, genital numbness, and female sexual function using the Female Sexual Function Index were administered. Risk factors for genital numbness and the associations with female sexual dysfunction (FSD) were examined. Multivariate analyses assessing the association between genital numbness and FSD were adjusted for age, BMI, race, marital status, smoking, medical co-morbidities, and urinary symptoms.
Results: The study included 875 female cyclists of which 44% reported genital numbness with a greater prevalence reported in younger cyclists. Total lifetime miles cycled, average biking duration, frequency, distance, speed, and biking surface were not associated with genital numbness. Higher handlebar height was associated with less genital numbness. After stratifying for age, there were no differences between total FSFI score among participants who did or did not report numbness (Figure 1). Adjusted odds ratios demonstrated that cyclists with genital numbness had higher odds of FSD (OR=1.43, 95% CI=1.05-1.95). Female cyclists who reported perineal and vaginal numbness had higher odds of FSD (OR=2.72, 95% CI=1.05-7.02 and OR=1.55, 95% CI=1.13-2.13, respectively). Cyclists with longer duration of genital numbness had the highest odds of FSD (OR=6.58, 95% CI=2.27-19.07).
Conclusions: Genital numbness is common in female cyclists and is associated with FSD. These associations are stronger for duration of genital numbness and location of numbness, such as the perineum and vagina. These findings suggest that genital numbness associated with cycling may have an impact on female sexual function. Additional prospective studies are necessary to uncover the temporal nature of these associations. Source of