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Lower back problems and erectile dysfunction

Published:Monday | November 18, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Men who ride bicycles for long distances have an increased risk of erectile dysfunction because of damage to the blood vessels and nerves that supply the penis, as you sit on the bicycle seat.
Dr Neil Gardner,

Dr Neil Gardner, Contributor

We live in a country where sexual performance, prowess and fertility are inextricably linked to our ideals of masculinity or femininity. As a result, for most persons who suffer from the various types of sexual dysfunction, they and their partners suffer in silence. There are many ways that sexual dysfunction may manifest - painful menstrual cycles, infertility or even erectile dysfunction (ED).

ED is the inability of men to experience or maintain an erection firm enough to make penetration possible. Some men with ED may even lose their erections during intercourse. The causes of ED are varied and may be due to physical or psychological problems. Underlying pre-existing health conditions include anything that causes damage to nerves or small blood vessels, including those supplying the reproductive organs. Diabetes and hypertension are two such conditions that are sometimes implicated in ED.

Psychological problems

Sexual response is understood to occur in a four-stage sequence. It begins with the psychological as part of the arousal stage and culminates in the post-orgasmic recovery stage.

In the same way that digestion involves the mind and, when depressed, one may lose their appetite, so too does sexual performance. Both work best when the person is relaxed and unstressed. Emotional challenges, depression, anxiety or stress may interfere with the arousal phase of the sexual-response cycle.

Riding bicycles and ED

"A 2005 review article published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that four per cent of male bicyclists who spent at least three hours per week in the saddle experienced moderate to severe erectile dysfunction, while only about one percent of runners who were the same age experienced ED." (Excerpt from an article on

Men who ride bicycles for long distances have an increased risk of ED because of damage to the blood vessels and nerves that supply the penis, as you sit on the bicycle seat.

Iatrogenic (medicinal or medical) causes

Certain prescriptions drugs for male pattern baldness may lead to ED. Some of these medications work by reducing the amount of dihydrotestosterone in the bloodstream. Dihydrotestosterone is one of the male sex hormones, whose reduction may result in an inability to get an erection. Medical or surgical procedures for prostate problems have a high chance of resulting in ED, including radiation therapy or prostate removal surgery.

Spinal problems

Spinal problems, including those resulting from a fall or motor vehicle accident, may result in damage or misalignments of the spinal bones and/or discs of the low back region called subluxations. Subluxations in this region of the spine may interfere with the nerves that exit the spine here. These nerves are involved in skin sensations and the control of blood flow to the genitals. The majority of such spinal problems do not manifest sexual symptoms immediately, often taking months even years to develop.

If you are suffering from sexual dysfunction that may be as a result of a spinal problem, then visit your family chiropractor to see if you have a spinal subluxation in the lower back. Remember chiropractors are the non-medicinal and non-surgical experts on spinal health.

Neil Gardner, DC, DACNB Diplomate, American Chiropractic Neurology Board, chiropractic neurologist, Gardner Chiropractic & Neurology Ltd. Website: Phone: 876-978-1050-1/876-622-9241 OR 214-432-5464 (from the USA).