If you finish a long bike ride feeling more of a burn in your lady parts than your legs, you're not alone; vulvar and butt pain from cycling is a real thing. While it's certainly not comfortable (and might not mean great things for post-ride romps) there's good news: it doesn't pose any permanent threat to sexual or urinary function, according to a new study presented today at the American Urological Association's 112th Annual Meeting. (BTW, there's a better workout choice if you're looking to increase your sex drive.)
Researchers surveyed 2,691 women from sports clubs across the world—658 were cyclists and 1,031 were swimmers or runners but not cyclists. They answered questions about their physical activities, sexual function, urinary symptoms, history of urinary tract infections (UTIs), and perineal numbness.
If you've ever been worried about long-term damage from the occasional back-to-back indoor cycling class, you can breathe a sigh of relief; the researchers found that cycling has no significant effect on female sexual or urinary functions. (Hooray!) However, female cyclists may have an increased risk of developing UTIs (not the only sneaky cause of these infections) and high-intensity cyclists (defined as those who've ridden for more than two years, three times a week, for at least 25 miles each ride) are more likely to develop perineal numbness and saddle sores (just one workout-inflicted health issue you should be wary of). However, the cardiovascular health benefits far outweigh these smaller risks, according to the researchers.
And if you invested in a fancy new bike seat in an attempt to combat bike butt? You might want to check the return policy; bike seat type had no significant effect on survey results, according to the study.