Q. I am 25 and will be cycling across Canada next year which means 130km (80 miles) a day, for 55 days. I am healthy and will be ready for the level of fitness demanded. However, I’m concerned that I may potentially increase my risk of prostate problems in the future. Are there prostate health risks, or other risks to the male organs, associated with men who cycle long distances?

A. Last year, Dr. Irwin Goldstein reported the results of some research on this very question. Specifically, he looked at long-distance bike riders and found that they were at increased risk of erectile dysfunction. His work revealed that the small seats these riders were using put extra pressure on the nerves and blood vessels to the penis. This pressure was destroying this tissue, and the result was weak erections or none at all.

The suggestions from the study were to use a form of bicycle seat that has a hole in the middle designed to reduce pressure on the base of the penis. Also, wide seats were less likely to cause penile damage.

To date there is no evidence that long-distance riding will hurt the prostate. Good luck with your ride.

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