Cycling and Female Sexual and Urinary Function: Results From a Large, Multinational, Cross-Sectional Study

Thomas W. Gaither, Mohannad A. Awad, Gregory P. Murphy, Ian Metzler, Thomas Sanford, Michael L. Eisenberg, Siobhan Sutcliffe, E. Charles Osterberg, Benjamin N. Breyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Bicycle riding has become an increasingly popular mode of transportation and exercise, especially among women, and previous studies have demonstrated a relationship between cycling and sexual dysfunction, albeit using non-validated questionnaires. Aim: We aimed to explore the relationship between cycling and sexual and urinary dysfunction. Methods: Cyclists were recruited to complete a survey through Facebook advertisements and outreach to sporting clubs across 5 English-speaking countries. Swimmers and runners were recruited as a comparison group. Outcomes: Participants were queried using validated questionnaires, including the Female Sexual Function Index, the American Urological Association Symptom Index, and non-validated questions about history of urinary tract infections (UTIs), genital numbness, and genital saddle sores (all self-reported). Results: 3,118 (53.3%) Women completed the survey, comprising 1,053 (34%) non-cyclists, 1,656 (53%) low-intensity cyclists, and 409 (13%) high-intensity cyclists. After adjusting for age, body mass index, hypertension, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, tobacco use, race, marital status, urinary symptoms, and sexual activity, high-intensity cyclists had lower odds of self-reported sexual dysfunction compared to non-cyclists (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.7, P =.02). There were no statistically significant differences in urinary symptoms across groups. Compared to non-cyclists, both low- and high-intensity cyclists had higher odds of reporting a previous UTI (aOR 1.4, P <.001, and aOR 1.4, P =.009, respectively), genital numbness (odds ratio [OR] 6.5, P <.001, and OR 9.1, P <.001, respectively), and saddle sores (OR 6.3, P <.001, and OR 22.7, P <.001, respectively). Clinical Translation: Women cyclists were more likely to report other genitourinary conditions, including UTIs, genital numbness, and saddle sores. Conclusions: This is the largest study comparing cyclists to other athletes with respect to sexual and urinary function. The study is limited by its cross-sectional design and sampling methods. We found that women cyclists were no more likely to report sexual dysfunction or urinary symptoms than swimmers or runners. Gaither TW, Awad MA, Murphy GP, et al. Cycling and Female Sexual and Urinary Function: Results From a Large, Multinational, Cross-Sectional Study. J Sex Med 2018;15:510–518.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-518
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Bicycle
  • Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms
  • Saddle Sores
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Urinary Tract Infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Urology


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