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Handlebar Level Can Affect Sexual Health of Female Cyclists

Monday, July 9, 2012 9:08 am EDT
"Chronic insult to the genital nerves from increased saddle pressures could potentially result in sexual dysfunction."

A new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine reveals that handlebar position is associated with changes in genital sensation in female cyclists.

Led by Marsha K. Guess, MD, MS, of Yale University School of Medicine, researchers evaluated bicycle set-up in terms of the relationship between the seat and the handlebars. 48 competitive women cyclists were studied.

Researchers measured saddle pressures and sensation in the genital region to see if placing handlebars in different positions affects pressure and sensation in the genital region. Results showed that placing the handlebar lower than the seat was associated with increased pressure on the genital region and decreased sensation (reduced ability to detect vibration).

“Modifying bicycle set-up may help prevent genital nerve damage in female cyclists,” Guess notes. “Chronic insult to the genital nerves from increased saddle pressures could potentially result in sexual dysfunction.”

“There are a myriad of factors affecting women’s sexual function. If women can minimize pressure application to the genital tissues merely by repositioning their handlebars higher, to increase sitting upright, and thereby maximize pressure application to the woman’s sit bones, then they are one step closer to maintaining their very important sexual health,” explained Irwin Goldstein, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Marsha K. Guess, MD, MS, is affiliated with Yale University School of Medicine.

Full citation: Guess et al. “The Bar Sinister: Does Handlebar Level Damage the Pelvic Floor in Female Cyclists?” The Journal of Sexual Medicine 2012. DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02680.x

About the Journal:
The JSM is a peer-reviewed publication founded in 2004 and is the official journal of the International Society for Sexual Medicine, its five regional affiliated societies and the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health. It publishes multi-disciplinary basic science and clinical research to define and understand the scientific basis of male and female sexual function and dysfunction and carries an Impact Factor of 3.957. For more information, please visit

Download The JSM mobile app for free to your smart phone or iPad at and keep up with the latest research published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

The International Society for Sexual Medicine (ISSM) was founded in 1982 for the purpose of promoting, throughout the international scientific community, research and knowledge in sexual medicine, considered as the subspecialty area of medicine that embraces the study, diagnosis and treatment of the sexual health concerns of men and women. The society has over 2100 members worldwide, with five regional societies that are affiliated with ISSM: the Asia Pacific Society for Sexual Medicine, European Society for Sexual Medicine, Latin American Society for Sexual Medicine, the Middle East Society for Sexual Medicine, and Sexual Medicine Society of North America. For more information please visit


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