Can Over-Exercising Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

Can Over-Exercising Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

To save you the time of reading this entire article to find out the answer, no, exercise does not cause erectile dysfunction (ED). In fact, research shows the opposite to be true, stating that lack of exercise contributes to ED. A 2018 review of various studies found that physical inactivity can cause ED. A separate review from six years prior in 2012 found that inactivity is a primary cause for many chronic illnesses. 

One of the reasons that lack of exercise is linked to ED is because of ED”s link to cardiovascular health. If you don’t exercise or live a sedentary lifestyle, you may experience decreased blood flow, which increases the risk of ED. Many studies confirm that regular physical activity improves symptoms in men with ED. A review of multiple studies found that weekly moderate to intense aerobic exercise helped improve ED. 

What Causes ED?

Stress, tiredness, or drinking alcohol are some of the typical causes of occasional or temporary ED. That said, ED can also be a side effect of common medications, such as:

  • Sedatives
  • Antidepressants
  • Ulcer medications
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Appetite suppressants

If ED persists, it may be caused by one of the following conditions or procedures:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Hormone problems
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Surgery for bladder cancer
  • Injury to the penis, prostates, pelvis, or bladder
  • Multiple sclerosis 
  • Chronic kidney disease

Sports And ED

Although the research shows that exercise is beneficial for ED, some research suggests that certain sports may increase the risk of ED. A review from 2019 found a link between ED and sports with higher rates of head injuries, like American football. Additionally, football, basketball, volleyball, and other similar sports have been linked to an increased risk of varicocele. This is a condition that occurs when the veins in the scrotum become enlarged and produce low sperm/decreased sperm quality as a result. 

Bicycling And ED

A study from 2010 suggested that riding on a bicycle seat for long periods of time can compress nerves in the perineum. That reduces blood flow to the penis, which may increase the risk of ED. A more recent study from 2020 involved 3,000 cyclists. Study authors noted a positive correlation between cycling and ED after adjusting age and other coexisting/underlying conditions. Other research found that certain bicycle characteristics led to an increased risk of ED. People who used mountain bikes, for example, had a higher risk of ED than those who used road bikes. 

Should You Take Precautions For Exercising With ED?

People with ED can benefit from regular exercise, especially if you are physically active for 30 minutes per day. Walking, hiking, running, swimming, strength training, and sports are great forms of exercise. Although cycling is a great cardiovascular workout, make sure to take the following precautions if you decide to cycle:

  • Avoid tilting the seat forward
  • Select a wide seat with adequate padding
  • Check that the seat height is correct, so that your legs don’t extend completely at the bottom of each pedal stroke
  • Position the handlebars higher than the seat

Other precautions for exercising with ED:

  • Take time to warm up and cool down
  • Stay hydrated by drinking the right fluids
  • Speak with a doctor about an appropriate exercise routine for you
  • Avoid overexertion and ease up when necessary
  • Avoid exercising in hot weather

Given the research, there is some evidence that associates an increased risk of ED and certain sports, such as cycling and football. There is currently no evidence, however, that suggests excessive exercise causes ED. Physical inactivity increases the risk of ED, so many health experts encourage daily movement to avoid these issues.



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