When it comes to movement and exercise for your body, let’s say for your muscles, joints, and cardiovascular health or body weight, cycling (also named biking) can certainly be a healthy activity.
It also has its mental health benefits, such as decreased anxiety, depression, and stress levels, notably for those who live and work in the city or have a sedentary lifestyle.
Nevertheless, prolonged cycling can cause serious neck, shoulder, knee, spinal, perineum, testicles, fertility, buttock, and (lower) back problems.
Pressure to the Testicles by Bike Saddles
The testicles, which hang outside your body in the scrotum, are usually rather sensitive and even slight pressure or repetitive blows can lead to discomfort, pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, or injury of the testicles. Bike seats (bike saddles) might be the cause of that, notably when you are a regular long-distance cyclist or mountain biker (which is typically due to the riding position and the types of saddles used).
The primary reason of pain, numbness, or tingling in the testicles, perineum, and/or groin after or during cycling is because of the bike saddle that squeezes, presses, or irritates nerves that go to the scrotum and reduce blood flow to the region. This is sometimes called Cyclist’s Syndrome.
In the long term, additional symptoms could occur, such as pain with urination or bowel movements, urinary urgency and frequency, and Erectile Dysfunction (ED).
These types of testicular pains with cycling may be avoided by using a good adjustable bike, a wider saddle, a saddle that matches your shape and physiology, one with grooves or cutouts to reduce pressure, the right location of the saddle, regularly standing out of the saddle while riding, and changing to a more upright riding position. It may also help to decrease your cycling time until the discomforts or pains subside.
In some cases, it could also be an option to wear less tight cycling pants, but on the other hand, tighter cycling gear may be more supportive to prevent injuries or trauma to the testes. So this is something very personal that the biker needs to experiment with.
Sudden Shocks to the Testicles
Another cause for pains in the testes is the terrain you bike in which could be very rough and bumpy. This could give sudden shocks to the testicles (via the saddle) which may cause damage or bruises leading to testicular trauma.
A possible consequence of this is that the covering of the testicles can be torn and blood can leak into the scrotum (making the scrotum swell or even black and blue), which in severe cases could lead to a testicle rupture.
The above could mean that surgery may be needed, but for less serious injuries, pain medication and proper support of the scrotum may be enough to heal. In any case, sudden painful shocks and subsequent injuries can be avoided by keeping utmost attention to upcoming bumps, potholes, and irregularities of the terrain and standing out the saddle when approaching i.e. crossing them.
Pedaling and Testicle Torsion
Another problem is that so-called testicular torsion may occur when biking. It means that a testicle twists and compresses the spermatic cord, cutting off the blood supply to the testicle. This causes abrupt and severe pain, and requires immediate medical help to prevent loss of the testicle.
The possible reason for testicle torsion while cycling is thought to be the result of the pedaling movements which could twist a testicle between your thigh and the saddle as the legs go up and down. To avoid this as much as possible is to stand out the saddle as soon as you notice increased discomfort, pressure, and/or friction occurring while pedaling.