Study Hall: How spinning may be messing with your sex life

You know that tingly, numb feeling you get after a kick-ass spin class? According to a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, it may be affecting your sex life.

For Study Hall each week, we sort through the deluge of new medical studies and wordy white papers to bring you one that deserves your attention—in plain, healthy English.

The burn you feel in spin class should be in your calves, not between your legs


You know that tingly, numb feeling you get after a kick-ass spin class? According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (March 2012), it may be affecting your sex life.

The study: Previous research has shown that cycling can cause erectile dysfunction in men because of the weight placed on the bike seat, so Yale researchers set out to determine if bike riding affects women’s sexual health as well.

The researchers observed 48 female cyclists riding their own bikes in a lab setting. (The bikes were each mounted on a stationary platform.) Then, they measured sensation in the genital region “using biosthesiometry measures of vibratory thresholds” and asked the women to report any soreness or numbness.

The results: Women who cycled with handlebars lower than their bike saddle experienced increased perineal saddle pressure and decreased genital sensation in some areas. Researchers noted that their findings suggested that the handlebar height (and saddle type) could have a cumulative effect on these issues.

What it means: Crank up those handlebars! Low handlebars force you to lean forward, increasing pressure on sensitive areas.

Bonus tip from star Flywheel instructor Holly Rilinger: “A general rule of handle bar height is that they should be about 3–5 inches above your saddle. If you have lower back concerns or problems, position the handle bars higher for more support. Your saddle height should be so that your knee has a slight bend at all times. You will notice your hips will rock a bit if you are positioned too high.” —Allison Becker

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