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Women's Health: Cycling is not a kinder, gentler sport for women

Small study shows frequent biking takes a toll on the genitals, but sex life doesn't suffer

Your feet are safer than your seat if you’re a female athlete, according to Yale University researchers.

The New Haven, Conn., investigators found that women who participated in prolonged, frequent bicycling – at least 16 kilometres per week, four weeks per month – had decreased genital sensation and were more likely to have a history of genital pain than female runners who ran at least 1.6 km daily or 8 km weekly.

The small study involved 48 female cyclists and 22 women runners. However, “negative effects on sexual function and quality of life were not apparent in our young, healthy premenopausal cohort,” the authors observe.

They speculate that chronic compression of the female genital area may lead to compromised blood flow and nerve injury.