• What effect does cycling have on the bladder?

There is some information online:

Beginner Triathlete

It is not uncommon to have genitourinary symptoms caused by prolonged contact with the bike seat. These symptoms can include numbness and tingling, erectile dysfunction, hematuria (blood in the urine), overactive bladder, and even a transitory decrease in sperm production.


Bicycle riding combines two key triggers of female urinary tract infections -- friction and bacteria. If you're a woman and an avid cyclist, understanding the mechanics of infection and taking the right precautions can minimize the chance you'll contract a UTI during during this physical activity. If you're a male cyclist, little if any evidence shows a direct link between bike riding and infections, but the mechanics of cycling can aggravate another condition with symptoms mimicking bladder infections.

Pacific Urology

While the physical and mental health benefits of cycling are clear, there can be negative urological consequences.

(although that seems to be more about sperm count than anything else.)

Opinions seem to be contradicting, though. Is there anything conclusive?

  • 1
    The above is basically about it. The vast majority of cyclists suffer no problem other than some external irritation and maybe a little general soreness until they get "conditioned". I have chronic kidney stone problems, and cycling actually seems to help a little. Jul 30 '15 at 11:56

You likely won't find anything conclusive, because the required testing would be so varied.

Anything done poorly can cause problems. Any sport lends itself to an increased chance for injury. However, proper technique and equipment generally alleviates some, if not most of that risk.

In cycling, proper hygiene, attire, technique and bike fit are all important. Keeping your skin clean (before and after rides). During rides (especially longer rides) chamois cream of some sort can help immensely. Bike shorts are made for a reason: they work. They should also be clean, however. Other attire is also important. Overdressing and sweating yourself out only creates a breeding ground for bacteria. Remember body odor varies from person to person, but is largely caused by the flora on the skin. No reason to build it a Disneyland unnecessarily.

A properly fitting seat and bike will minimize friction and irritation. These factors can cause surface skin damage which then leads to infection (saddle sores, etc) after the skin begins to break down.

If you are referring to bladder infections, I think it would be a long road with a lot of ignorance to get there. While females are generally more prone to UTIs, and cycling could increase the risk of those, the steps necessary to reduce the risk are quite easy and really part of basic hygiene. Getting a UTI and then ignoring it long enough for it to hit the bladder would require an additional step of disregard.

  • Actually, what most people call "body odor" is caused by fatty acids in the sweat. These fatty acids are produced only by special sweat glands in the underarms and groin area, and as they oxidize in air they become more "fragrant" -- has nothing to do with bacteria. Jul 30 '15 at 22:31
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_odor In addition, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limburger. Similar bacterial strains cause the similar smells. Jul 30 '15 at 22:36

The ways in which exercise in general promotes good health is generally well understood and appreciated and shared between athletes. However, the adverse affects can vary greatly between individuals and is often overlooked, ignored, and can even become a source of shame and feelings of inadequacy. That is not good! and a logical-medical viewpoint, balancing the benefits and not-so-benefits, must be maintained.

My personal story - I used to jog and suffered from unknown leg pains, inability to sit without pain for more than 15 minutes, increasingly slow running, etc. - finally had an MRI and could see with my own eyes the slipped disc. Fortunately, the direction of the slip meant that I could cycle without pain so I quit running and took up cycling. The pain in my legs disappeared after a year. I can cycle for endless hours whereas I could run for no more than three hours before the pain became too great. Then I had trouble with sebaceous cysts on my behind after randonneur mega-rides. In the end I had two operations to have cysts removed over 3 years. After optimizing saddles, riding position, pedals, bib shorts, chamois, chamois creme, and removing pork and beef and minimizing other animal fats and sugar in my diet (animal fats replaced with coconut oil), I can with a confidence of 99% get through a 600 km ride without ass/crotch pimples that might become sebaceous cysts later.

How this applies to your question:

Don't ignore your symptoms treat them with respect and keep actively changing parameters to test how the symptoms can be minimized. Nothing is guaranteed, but you are allowed to try.

Opportunist bacteria in the crotch is likely to increase during cycling due to heat and friction - in the case of a woman there is a direct large channel from the crotch to the bodies interior so it makes sense that (depending on the individual) bladder infections could increase. That doesn't mean you are defeated however, there are many possible parameter changes that might help you overcome this obstacle.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.